Those Years in Production Limbo Didn't Make 'The Woman in the Window' Any Better Directed by Joe Wright
Starring Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Wyatt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore, Brian Tyree Henry
Published May 18, 2021This is the end of an era. As probably the final production of Fox 2000 Pictures prior to its recent dissolution, Joe Wright's The Woman in the Window seemed to hold a good share of promise when it was first announced in 2018. Wright was fresh off the Oscar-winning Darkest Hour, and it came with a stacked cast reading from a Tracy Letts script. Since then, Disney bought 20th Century Fox, the movie was rewritten and reshot, the author of its source material was exposed as a serial liar, and its producer Scott Rudin exposed as a chronic abuser until finally Disney shuffled it off to Netflix.
All of this is bad enough, but then you factor in that the movie itself is just godawful and it makes for the longest whimper of an ending for Fox. Ostensibly, the movie is a riff on Hitchcock's Rear Window, with Amy Adams' agoraphobe spying on her neighbours and discovering some murderous secrets. Instead, for most of its runtime it's actually about nothing, and also trauma. It takes over half an hour into this before the inciting incident occurs. Before, during and after this incident, its cast floats in and out of Adams' apartment in varying degrees of histrionics, with no recognizable human quality between them. Gary Oldman is perhaps the worst offender in this regard, continuing his late-stage acting technique of simply hamming up the scene as much as possible.
Much of the before consists of Adams wandering around her place, hinting at a shocking backstory with the subtlety of a flashing neon sign. Her mysterious neighbours broadcast their character traits in the same fashion. When the reveals about both Adams and the aforementioned murderous secrets do pile up, they're delivered at the apex of melodrama, as if the audience hadn't already figured it out. This only manages to inspire laughter. Even composer Danny Elfman takes an L here by pitching the entire score at the same overheated level as the rest of the movie, regardless of what's occurring on screen.
Points can begrudgingly be given to the final 10 minutes for its over-the-top violence in the sort of rooftop confrontation that only happens in the movies. Even that, though, is more because it's unintentionally hilarious rather than dramatically potent. There are snatches of that accidental comedy before the climax, but for the most part it's simply boring. (Netflix)