“The Woman in the Window,” directed by Joe Wright (“Darkest Hour”) and scripted by Letts, adapting A.J. Finn’s 2018 novel, is a movie that would love to be called Hitchcockian. The stately Harlem brownstone in which Anna Fox (Amy Adams) lives is a movie set of such gloomy palatial grandeur that the place threatens to overwhelm everything that happens inside it.
Anna is a nervous wreck of an agoraphobe who hasn’t left the house in 10 months. It’s her cocoon, her prison, her stately dream chamber. The high-ceilinged rooms are bathed in a shadowy glow, the muted colors leftover from an aging renovation, with a winding wooden staircase that extends so far up it never seems to end. It’s a dwelling fit for The Magnificent Ambersons, or maybe a good haunting. But there are no ghosts here. There is just Anna, popping her cocktail of prescription meds, taking house calls from her terse psychiatrist (Tracy Letts) in an elegant study, and speaking on the phone to the husband (Anthony Mackie) she’s separated from (they have an 8-year-old daughter, who lives with him). Anna is a shrink herself — a child psychologist — who no longer works. Somehow, though, all that splendid neo-Victorian real estate keeps threatening to make her agoraphobia seem like a form of entitlement.
Tracy Letts is a vibrant playwright, but the dialogue in “The Woman in the Window” is weirdly stilted, like someone’s chintzy mainstream-movie attempt at Pinter or Mamet. Adams’ performance is by turns commanding and tremulously self-conscious. And stuff keeps happening that’s so overwrought that the film, in its way, becomes a whirlpool of contrivance. Each time Anna tries to explain her actions, either to her husband or to a sympathetic not-quite-by-the-book police detective (Brian Tyree Henry), she seems paranoid and delusional. But, of course, if everything we were seeing was all just happening in her head that could be its kind of cheat. So the contrivances may have to be real after all!
The story is a muddle, clunkily paced and building toward an entirely unearned twist reveal. The goal here was to evoke, among other films, the Hitchcock classic Rear Window, but Wright can’t muster any of that film’s claustrophobic tension. He’s too busy drenching everything in garish color and letting his camera admire Anna’s stately home. No matter what the film looked like, though, I suspect it couldn’t escape the muck of Mallory’s narrative. It’s both pretentious and programmatic, built-in predictable beats and offering no new spin on any of its hoary forms. Formulaic genre movies can be lots of fun, but not when they’re as ponderous and self-serious as The Woman in the Window.
The Woman in the Window has both flash and fizzle. Amy Adams is great in the lead role, presenting us with a shattered recluse who wages war on lucidity daily, but the rest of the cast, while noteworthy, are sort of relegated to being plot pawns. Still, if you're looking for a higher class of claustrophobic Noir, and don't care too much about the resolution, there's a playfulness on display here that might scratch an airport novel itch.
Final Score – [7/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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