Review: 'The Woman In The Window' Peers into Strange Territory

by Jason Southerland

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday May 14, 2021

'The Woman In The Window'
'The Woman In The Window'  (Source:Netflix)

It takes a lot of courage — or hubris — to make a movie that is going to evoke the spirit of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window." It's a shame that with "The Woman in the Window," an extremely talented team has come up empty.

The woman of the title is Anna Fox (Amy Adams), an agoraphobe whose recent history is murky but involves a husband (Anthony Mackie) and daughter who allegedly moved out recently, and with whom she talks every day. Mackie and their daughter are disembodied voices on the telephone. The only people Anna sees regularly are her tenant, who lives in the basement, and her psychiatrist, who visits weekly.

Anna is highly medicated, often intoxicated, exceptionally fragile, and unconvincingly paranoid. She spends her days watching the neighbors in the houses across the street from her three-story home in Manhattan. She shares details of the neighborhood action with Mackie in her phone calls, and is particularly agitated about the Russells, a new family that has moved into the house directly across from her.

From the outset, "The Woman in the Window" feels self-consciously weird — British director Joe Wright ("Atonement," "The Darkest Hour") and Pulitzer prize winning playwright Tracy Letts ("August: Osage County") seem to be presenting the world through Anna's eyes. Thus, when the Russell's son (Fred Hechinger) and, later, the mother (Julianne Moore) appear on her doorstep, it's no surprise they are strange. The movie takes a turn into predictable territory when Anna believes she sees Mr. Russell (Gary Oldman) murder Mrs. Russell. At this point, it doubles down on the disconnected and dislocating tone, as if to bring the audience further into Anna's mental state.

There are very few unexpected twists or turns in the remaining 75 minutes of the film. The most compelling character by this point is the cat — who is as strange as the rest of the cast, and gets twice the screen time of Ms. Moore. The cast is rounded out by small roles for Jennifer Jason Leigh and Brian Tyree Henry, as well as a cameo from Mr. Letts.