(2021) (Amy Adams, Fred Hechinger) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Dramatic Thriller: After she seemingly witnesses a new neighbor be murdered in the house across the street, an agoraphobic woman questions her sanity when no one believes her.
Anna Fox (AMY ADAMS) is a child psychologist who hasn't left the house in nearly a year due to her paralyzing agoraphobia. She has human contact in the form of her basement tenant, David (WYATT RUSSELL), visits by her psychiatrist, Dr. Landy (TRACY LETTS), and chats on the phone with her husband, Ed (ANTHONY MACKIE), who's no longer around, just like their daughter.
Anna spends most of her time observing the world through the front window of her large Manhattan brownstone, including the recent arrival of a new family across the street. While the dad, Alistair Russell (GARY OLDMAN), comes off as cold and curt, his 15-year-old son, Ethan (FRED HECHINGER), seems nice if perhaps a bit shell-shocked at the hands of his father, while Anna finds herself hitting it off with the boy's mom (JULIANNE MOORE).
But Anna is shocked when witnessing a domestic dispute and sees a knife stabbed into Jane. She calls the police and Detectives Little (BRIAN TYREE HENRY) and Norelli (JEANINE SERRALLES) show up, but find nothing amiss, with Alistair showing that Jane (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH) is not only alive, but also unharmed, much to Anna's confusion since she's not the same woman she met. Not sure of her sanity thanks to her mixing alcohol and new meds, Anna tries to figure out what's going on, especially since no one believes her story about what she thinks she saw.
- OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
I grew up in the 1960s with a nosey neighbor who was always peeking out through the curtains and yelling at Abner, her poker-faced husband about what she's seen, only to have no one believe her. Thankfully, that woman didn't live on my street. How's that, you might ask?
Well, she lived in the television in the form of Gladys Kravitz on the witchy sitcom "Bewitched." The running joke was there to poke fun at such people in the suburbs who had nothing better to do than spy on others on the street in faux shock (and have since morphed into today's looney "Karens" who pretty much do the same thing out in public).
Of course, the burbs don't get sole possession of spying, nosey neighbors as evidenced in Alfred Hitchcock's superlative thriller "Rear Window" where Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer who's laid up in his Manhattan apartment with a broken leg in a wheelchair.
Bored, he begins watching the goings-on in other apartments across the way, observing family dynamics and so on when he sees what appears to be a man murder his wife. He calls his detective friend who, of course, finds nothing and then... Well, I won't spoil the surprises if you haven't seen the flick.
It was remade as a TV movie of the same name and inspired Brian De Palma's "Body Double," the more closely plotted teen thriller "Disturbia" and now "The Woman in the Window" that arrives on Netflix with a high caliber cast.
In it, Amy Adams plays Anna Fox, a child psychologist who lives in a large Manhattan building but hasn't ventured outside in nearly a year due to her agoraphobia, something that her basement tenant, David Winters (Wyatt Russell), accepts but doesn't really understand.
Her other interactions are with her husband, Ed (Anthony Mackie), who's no longer in the picture, and her psychiatrist, Dr. Landy (Tracy Letts), with whom she shares her observations of the new neighbors across the street. They're the Russels, and things seem tense between the dad, Alistair (Gary Oldman), and the teenage son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger) who acts somewhat shell-shocked when Anna meets him.
Anna does hit it off with the boy's mom (Juliane Moore) when she stops by for a visit. But things seem tense between her and Alistair, eventually resulting in Anna thinking she's witnessed him stab her, although Anna's view is partially blocked. And she's on new medication and drinking heavily and is already as jumpy as a small dog during Fourth of July fireworks.
She calls the police, but Detectives Little (Brian Tyree Henry) and Norelli (Jeanine Serralles) -- already aware of the previous false-alarm 911 calls coming from Anna's home -- don't find anything amiss, and Alistair presents his wife to prove she's clearly alive and unharmed.
The only issue for Anna -- other than questioning her sanity -- is that the missus is a different woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) than the one she met. From that point on, Anna tries to figure out what's going on, all while haunted by a past event that's left her sanity and judgment in tatters.
As directed by Joe Wright ("Pride & Prejudice," "Darkest Hour") from a script by Tracy Letts who's adapted author A. J. Finn's 2018 novel of the same name, the film has nothing to do with the 1944 film of the same name starring Edward G. Robinson. Instead, it's obviously inspired by Hitchcock's classic thriller, albeit with enough changes to keep things from feeling like a lazy, copycat rip-off.
That said, and is often the case with these sorts of thrillers, the developments and revelations at the end not only feel rote, but also something of a ludicrous letdown considering the build-up to them. I won't give away what happens, but I simply didn't but into it.
Notwithstanding how those things play out, the performances are good, especially from Adams who believably portrays a mentally fractured woman. And the rest of the impressive cast - along with Wright's onscreen pedigree - certainly give the flick an air of "it must be good considering who's involved" that partially make one overlook some but not all of its flaws.
Clearly not a match for Hitchcock's nosey neighbor thriller, at least "The Woman in the Window" didn't have me yelling "Abner!" in response to what I had just seen. Decent until the end, the flick rates as a 5 out of 10.
Reviewed May 10, 2021 / Posted May 14, 2021
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