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Movie Review: “The Woman in the Window”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Netflix Release: 5/14/2021

Netflix Release: 5/14/2021

Synopsis

Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is a recluse. She has separated from her husband (Anthony Mackie) and their daughter (Mariah Bozeman) is with him. Her once perfect family and perfect life have crashed and burned, and Anna has developed a paranoia that has made venturing outside her own apartment an impossible task. She is a psychiatrist, but she has not worked since her separation from her husband, and her only real interactions are with her boss and mentor (Tracy Letts) and her roommate David (Wyatt Russell). Anna has taken up a new hobby in her days and nights as a recluse. She people watches from her window, and her latest fascination is with her new neighbors across the street. They seem to be a troubled family, as both the son and mother—Ethan Russell (Fred Hechinger) and Jane Russell (Julianne Moore)—come to her to talk about their problems.

One night while Anna is spying on the family, she witnesses the murder of Jane Russell. She could not see the murderer, but she knows what she saw, and she calls the police. Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman) then shows up to her apartment with detectives. He claims his family never met Anna, and he is accompanied by another woman claiming to be Jane Russell (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Anna has no idea what is going on, but she knows what she saw and she knows she is being framed as a crazy woman. With no one believing a murder even took place, Anna becomes desperate to prove her sanity and to get justice for the late Jane Russell.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Amy Adams (+8pts)

Slow (-5pts)

Crazy vs. Sane (+3pts)

Predictable Family (-3pts)

The Climax (+4pts)

Impact (-6pts)

movie-review-the-woman-in-the-window

Pro: Amy Adams (+8pts)

Anyone familiar with Amy Adams knows the woman can act, and she proved that once again with this movie. This was one of those characters that were were supposed to be able to believe was either crazy or sane, and Amy Adams unsurprisingly pulled that off. This was also a character who was haunted by her own guilt, regret, and pain over the part she played in ending her marriage. This was a character with a lot of emotional baggage, and that meant plenty of dramatic scenes for Amy Adams to sink her teeth into. It should come as no surprise that she was able to pull this character off, but she still carried a lot of this movie on her performance, and it was a performance that was captivating in what was otherwise a mostly unremarkable movie.

movie-review-the-woman-in-the-window

Con: Slow (-5pts)

This was unfortunately one of those interesting looking thrillers that ended up being pretty slow and uneventful. It was a lot of watching Anna worrying about her neighbors, it was a lot of watching Anna feeling depressed, and it was a lot of nothing, in which the filmmakers let us stew in our own thoughts, wondering if Anna was crazy or sane. Anna witnessed—or thought she witnessed—a murder, and the rest of the rising action consisted of her talking to people, trying to convince them and us that she was not crazy. It made this a mostly uneventful movie that really only had a few twists or surprises. To make matters worse, one of those few surprises was shown in the trailer, and another was fairly predictable, making this a slow and boring story at times.

movie-review-the-woman-in-the-window

Pro: Crazy vs. Sane (+3pts)

Like I said before, this was one of those movies in which we were supposed to be conflicted, wondering if the main character really saw what they thought they saw. Amy Adams sold both possibilities, and the writers gave us enough evidence to support them. The filmmakers also poked enough holes in my theories to make me wonder what on earth was going on. The filmmakers handled this all well, but it did not make the movie all that special, because I have seen plenty of movies that have done it better. The filmmakers definitely made me question Anna’s sanity, but they did not do so in a very impactful or engaging way. While I was questioning her sanity, it felt like I was doing so while being outside of her story, as opposed to being pulled inside of it.

movie-review-the-woman-in-the-window

Con: Predictable Family (-3pts)

This was the twist that I thought was predictable. It was so predictable that I honestly called it from one of the first scenes in the movie, and the reveal was the end of the second act. I am all for throwing plot twists into stories, but when you can see them coming from a mile away, it kind of defeats the whole purpose. This was clearly meant to try and make the movie surprising, but it instead made it feel really predictable, so the filmmakers probably should have not made it a secret at all. I really think the movie would have been better off of this was revealed to the audience early on, and then the story could have just focused on how it affected Anna, rather than pretend it was some great mystery when it very obviously was not.

movie-review-the-woman-in-the-window

Pro: The Climax (+4pts)

Without giving anything away, I thought the climax of this movie was surprisingly good. The movie leading up to it was mostly slow and predictable, but the climax provided a twist I definitely did not see coming. It also provided excitement, it was emotionally charged, and it was emotionally satisfying. The movie leading up to it could have been a lot better, but the climax itself was pretty well done. It recaptured my attention and excitement, and it ended this movie on a high note.

movie-review-the-woman-in-the-window

Con: Impact (-6pts)

One thing this movie was missing was impact. First, there was the big reveal regarding Anna’s story that happened toward the end of the movie. I understood the logic of what this meant to Anna, but it was so predictable that I saw it coming right from the beginning of the movie. Naturally, by the time the filmmakers finally made their reveal, it had lost almost all impact for me.

Another area that had little impact was unfortunately the main mystery of the movie. It just felt like proving Anna's sanity was not very important. Yes, she may have seen a woman get killed, but I thought it was just as likely that it was all in her head, and these two things sort of canceled each other out. It made the stakes of the movie feel really low, and I never got the impression that anyone else was in danger, if Jane Russell was even really killed in the first place. While the mystery was interesting at times, it never felt all that important, so I was never fully invested in it. Considering this was the main plot of the movie, it made the movie feel the hollow shell of what it could have been.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-the-woman-in-the-window

Grade: C+ (76pts)

The Woman in the Window had all the makings of a decent thriller. It had an interesting premise that made us question the main character’s sanity, and it had the talented Amy Adams in the lead role. Unfortunately, the filmmakers could have done a much better job with it. There were really only three twists in the entire story. One was shown in the trailer, and another was so predictable that most viewers will see it coming from a mile away.

Most of the movie was slow and uneventful, and the overall story was not very impactful or gripping. It was a mostly bland thriller with a great lead actress that made the most of what she was given. She brought all of the character’s guilt and anguish to the screen, which kept me interested in the character. The climax then brought a surprising twist and plenty of excitement. This movie’s strengths redeemed it from most of its issues, but those strengths were not enough to make this movie good.

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