May 14th, 2021
MOVIE: THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
STARRING: AMY ADAMS, JULIANNE MOORE, GARY OLDMAN, ANTHONY MACKIE, WYATT RUSSELL, BRIAN TYREE HENRY, TRACY LETTS, JENNIFER JASON LEIGH
DIRECTED BY: JOE WRIGHT
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
For some film critics, including yours truly, we eat up the kind of movies that copy Alfred Hitchcock. There’s an entire collection of directors that have made a career off of duplicating the master of suspense, such as Brian De Palma, David Fincher, and Park Chan-wook. So it’s not a bad thing for a director to try their hand at making their own spin on Hitchcock and in Joe Wright’s case with The Woman in the Window, he does it so well that it reminds you once again why we love movies. The cast of this one is big, led by an unnerving and unstoppable performance by Amy Adams, supported by the sharp screenplay by Tracy Letts, and culminating in a web of mystery. The Woman in the Window is a thrilling and chilling affair of gossip and gander, propelled by the gorgeous direction from Joe Wright (Darkest Hour). The Woman in the Window is so good, it would be wrong if we all didn’t just pull back the curtains and take a peek.
Amy Adams is Anna Fox, a child psychologist that is also agoraphobic. The reasoning behind her fears is not revealed till later, but it has put her into a separation from husband Ed (Anthony Mackie) and daughter because of it. She’s also suffering from depression, calling for constant visits by her therapist Dr. Landry (Letts), and engaging in the nighttime tradition of pills and wine. Her tenant in the basement is David (Wyatt Russell), a bachelor that tries to stay out of her affairs as much as possible. The new neighbors across the street are the Russell’s, father Alistair (Gary Oldman), mother Jane (Julianne Moore) and son Ethan (Fred Hechinger), but as Anna peers into their windows with her camera, she notices discourse between this family, and one by one she meets them, first the son, then has a glass of wine with Jane, and briefly meets Alistair. It’s a few days later when her curiosity puts her in the middle, while in her inebriated state, she witnesses Jane being stabbed, blood streaking across the window…or at least she thinks that’s what she saw.
There are often a list of things that make something a “Hitchcock movie” and The Woman in the Window does not hide a single piece of flare; The Vertigo style colors of red and green. The winding views of a tall staircase. A blonde-haired Julianne Moore, having a secret side to her. And yes, so many references to Rear Window that it might as well be a sequel. The fascinating thing is that this is the director of Atonement and Anna Karenina, a creator of films that signal nothing like Hitchcock. It’s an interesting trend in directors today, where they are stepping outside their comfort zone, such as Guy Ritchie making a hard nosed heist film, or how Fincher stepped away from his standard thrills with Mank. It pushes back against the auteur theory, while also expanding the styles of an artist.
As the narrative winds, the mystery becomes a search for Anna, calling the police (Brian Tyree Henry proving again he’s having a great 2021) and trying to convince them what she saw, but now it’s a question of what really happened, and the fight is against what she believed she saw vs. what she actually saw. The wavering reality is held in the performance of Amy Adams, where her work is fragile, perfectly bipolar in nature, and creating an emotional center where we can feel for her. It’s nice to get the taste of Hillbilly Elegy out of our mouths with her work here. Plus, there’s a genuinely rich ensemble of performances, but Adams is the star, while Julianne Moore’s work is the sneaky greatness in her limited appearance. Either way, The Woman in the Window is a full throated production.
Coursing through the veins of The Woman in the Window is the blood of Alfred Hitchcock, with an excellent new age production. It’s obvious that Joe Wright wants everything about this movie to be big, from the sets, the cinematography, the performances, and the characters. This is on par with the likes of Panic Room, Gone Girl, or Brian De Palma’s Passion as new modern day thrillers. There’s a deeper dissection of mental health, how we handle our past traumas, how we believe people, and how we find the solace we need. The Woman in the Window nails the twists, has great suspense, and thrills. All of that is crystal clear.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW PREMIERES THIS WEEKEND IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON NETFLIX FRIDAY MAY 14TH
Written by: Leo Brady