After Disney took over 20th Century Fox, Joe Wrights fell THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW through the grid. Now Netflix has taken care of it and can rely on a top-class and elegantly furnished chamber drama thriller, the content of which, however, does not quite do justice to its external appearance. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: The Woman in the Window (USA 2021)
Agoraphobic child psychologist Anna Fox (Amy Adams) finds it impossible to leave her house in the middle of New York. So day in and day out she watches the perfect Russell family across the street through her window. Having just moved there, the neighbor boy Ethan (Fred Hechinger) is looking for contact with Anna and gets along with her straight away. But the young woman suspects that something is wrong in the teenager’s family. This premonition is also confirmed by his mother Jane Russell (Julianne Moore), who a short time later also stands on Anna’s mat and spends a talkative evening with her new neighbor. A short time later, Anna witnesses a brutal crime through her window that throws her and her life completely off track. When it becomes apparent that nothing around her is as it seems, Anna is forced to ask herself: is she crazy or is it the people around her?
The film adaptation of AJ Finn’s global bestseller “The Woman in the Window” by “Darkest Hour” and “Atonement” director Joe Wright has an eventful production history behind it. Initially, the chamber play, which was conceptually based very clearly on reduced crime classics of the late 1950s and 1960s, fell through the cracks in the wake of the Walt Disney Company’s takeover of 20th Century Fox – now 20th Century Studios. This means: Instead of putting the star-studded film either in the cinema or at least in the adult section of the in-house streaming service Disney+, the rights were soon handed over to Netflix. Previously, as a result of tons of confused viewers left behind at test screenings, not only extensive reshoots had been ordered, but also those of Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor (“Gone Girl – The Perfect Victim”) Supervised score completely canceled and replaced by compositions by colleague Danny Elfman (“Justice League”) replaced. So somehow there seemed to be a worm in there, which can still be seen to some extent in the film, which is now available on Netflix – over two years after filming. “The Woman in the Window” isn’t a particularly bad film. It’s not even as chaotic as its production history suggests. But it also leaves a lot of potential. And perhaps it wouldn’t have come to this if the production of the film had been under a slightly better star…
Anna (Amy Adams) receives a visit from her neighbor Jane (Julianne Moore).
When the character in a story observes a crime through his window and then everything is about how this crime can be solved, you inevitably come to the realization that Alfred Hitchcock has already seen this very premise in his crime classic “The Window to the Courtyard”. half a century has been exhausted. But instead of silently accepting this supposed disadvantage, screenwriter Tracy Letts goes (“In August in Osage County”) true to the motto “Attack is the best defense!” on a confrontational course and turns its protagonist Anna into not just an anxious patient confined to her apartment due to agoraphobia, but also a big fan of these same films. Just a few minutes into “The Woman at the Window” we see Anna speaking excerpts from “The Window to the Court” because she knows the film with James Stewart and a beautiful Grace Kelly in the lead roles so well. Director Joe Wright knows exactly who his film’s role models are and doesn’t shy away from using his cameraman Bruno Delbonnel, who shot the award-winning Winston Churchill biopic “The Darkest Hour” for him, to create a film with numerous cross-references to similar crime films Thriller-enhanced, elegantly exquisite camera work to bring out the most varied images possible from the reduced setting of a house that is not so reduced at all, but – on the contrary – equipped with high ceilings and numerous rooms. Although “The Woman in the Window” takes place in the same apartment most of the time and the view of the residential building opposite and the canyon of houses below is the only change, you never get the feeling that shots are being repeated. Ultimately, the setting is just a means to an end. The focus is clearly on the fate of Amy Adams (“Arrival”) embodied Anna.
“The protagonist Anna is not just an anxious patient confined to her apartment due to agoraphobia, but also a big fan of crime classics like ‘The Window to the Courtyard’.”
From the first scene onwards, the script establishes her as an anxious patient who is unable to leave her house due to agoraphobia (also known as claustrophobia). Her only contact with other people are phone calls with her estranged husband (Anthony Mackie) and her daughter Olivia (Mariah Bozeman). As a result, “The Woman in the Window” finds an understandable reason why the main character cannot leave her own four walls even when a deadly crime is apparently taking place on the other side of the street. At the same time, those responsible did not seem to really trust their decidedly reduced starting position. So it happens that Anna is not only regularly visited by her psychotherapist (Tracy Letts) and her lodger David (Wyatt Russell) pays her frequent visits, but she also doesn’t shy away from meeting her neighbor boy Ethan, who was a stranger to her, as well as her, no less to invite unknown neighbor Jane in or to agree to a relaxing evening with wine and long conversations when the latter helped her back into the apartment after a faint attack while trying to leave the house. Anna’s psychological state is increasingly deteriorating. It’s only when events come to a head in the second half that the script plays out something that has barely played a role up to that point, but could have made “The Woman in the Window” much stronger: the question of whether Anna’s life is clouded by medication and alcohol can still trust their senses as to whether the events around them actually happened that way or whether they are the result of delusions.
Anna’s neighbor Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman) behaves suspiciously. Meanwhile, Detective Little (Brian Tyree Henry) tries to get to the bottom of what happened.
After almost an hour there is a scene that exploits exactly this fact and is therefore one of the strongest in the film. A moment in which Anna’s reality collapses for a few minutes and Joe Wright’s production ensures that the audience can no longer be sure in which direction “The Woman in the Window” will go. At the same time, this scene also turns out to be a qualitative turning point for the film, which, after the calm film that was perhaps not entirely consistent with regard to Anna’s mental state but ultimately equally exciting and inscrutable, takes a wild twistride and suddenly questions details from the plot construct. whose real existence was not at all up for debate. From now on, the actual crime plot moves forward with as little tension as possible and, according to the usual whodunit principle, introduces one suspect after another (some of whom behave so specifically suspiciously that you know exactly that this person guarantees it). not can be), the script instead suddenly throws new insights and revelations around in all other areas, which gradually rob “The Woman in the Window” of its credibility. This may largely be due to the fact that some passages from the original book were severely reduced or even left out entirely. In the best case scenario, you won’t notice that a novel has been adapted for film adaptation purposes. In the case of “The Woman in the Window” there are no glaring plot details missing, as in such a negative example as Tomas Alfredson’s “Snowman” film adaptation. On the other hand, the surprising revelations on the home stretch come in such rapid succession that the authenticity is ultimately no longer in very good shape.
“While the actual crime plot moves forward with as little tension as possible and introduces one suspect after another according to the usual whodunit principle, the script instead throws around new insights and revelations in all other areas that ‘The Woman in the “Window” will gradually lose its credibility.”
In the case of “The Woman in the Window” it is the task of the ensemble to hold this shaky construct of untrustworthy twists, a half-baked character study, a solid criminal case and an exquisite technical presentation together. While Amy Adams carries a large part of the action entirely on her shoulders and puts herself into her role as the fearful Anna with great commitment, big shots like Gary Oldman fall (“Mank”) or Julianne Moore (“Still Alice – My Life Without Yesterday”) on the other hand, surprisingly significantly. Oldman in particular constantly borders on overacting when he plays the prime suspect. Julianne Moore, on the other hand, can never hide the fact that her role is not the one she claims to be, which makes Anna almost appear as a naive person to fall for her performance. Wyatt Russell (“22 Jump Street”) as Anna’s obscure but likeable neighbor and Brian Tyree Henry (“Beale Street”) According to the film, they perform solidly. Only by Fred Hechinger (“Eighth Grade”) We would have liked to have seen more, as he fully immerses himself in his role in his few scenes and therefore ultimately deserves a better film in order to be able to fully exploit his character’s potential.
Conclusion: The finished film was not quite as chaotic as the difficult production history of “The Woman in the Window” suggests. But unfortunately the elegantly photographed, star-studded thriller can be divided into two halves. While the first is convincing as an intensively staged mix of character study and crime thriller, the film gets lost in the second half in wild twists, half-baked storylines and less than credible performances by the actors. The end result is still reasonably entertaining, but falls far short of its potential.
“The Woman in the Window” is now available to stream on Netflix.