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The Woman in the Window Film Review

★★ Stars

Directed by: #JoeWright

Written by: #TracyLetts

A woman stands by a window covered in raindrops, the image is zoomed in to take up the entire expanse of the frame. An addition distant window is reflected as a bloodied hand runs down it. The text in the left side of the image reads ‘The Woman in the Window.’

“An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbours, only to witness a disturbing act of violence.”

The Woman in the Window, based on a novel of the same title by A.J. Finn, presents an awe-inspiring storyline matching the atmosphere of said novel. However, its potential here is the only thing that seems to keep you watching until the credits. I was so very excited to watch this because of the story it is based on plus the spectacular cast that is involved, unfortunately it wasn’t anywhere near the standard that I hoped for. Even with Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, Darkest Hour) in the director’s chair, there is no steady pace present throughout the film to combine its components in a positively electrifying way.

Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel keeps the eyes fixed on the screen and definitely enhances the mysterious and thrilling aspect of the plot. Delbonnel stands as an Academy Award nominee and I have adoringly gazed upon how he is able to bring out the true colours of a story through the visual telling of settings and expressions – thankfully, I found a similar form of this amazement in his work for The Woman in the Window. The unsettling experience that the plot places you in as an audience member is beautifully told through wide angles and pinpointing intruding details through more closeup shots when appropriate.

To my dismay, the direction in a broader sense wasn’t the standard I was anticipating at all. Direction, of course, weaves its way into all elements involved in creating a film; like a tree slowly sprouting thanks to the tender care of the sun and rain. But, in this case, the tree hasn’t received the same type of natural nurturing that it needs. Joe Wright, although praiseworthy in regards to many of his previous works, appears to have been unable to maintain a steady flow of direction from beginning to end. The Woman in the Window feels much like a copycat game; not simply taking inspiration from other directors’ techniques and film quirks but actually attempting to implement them so squarely that it becomes a graceless act. It doesn’t feel like his work is authentic and artistic despite the plot being something extravagant and providing such a powerful story to build upon. Don’t get me wrong, the directing isn’t entirely ‘bad’ and some choices do complement the film overall but even so, this backbone of the film just isn’t strong enough.

The writing (Tracy Letts) tends to follow the same pattern of issues as the direction. It generically takes shape over the course of the film and can feel quite blunt and tedious at times. This makes me a little confused because how can that possibly happen with a storyline so full of vibrancy and already there to work with from the novel? It starts to fail terribly approaching the third act in a race to finish the film just shy of two hours; it spirals out of control and starts to generate a whirlwind of disarray. The story is complex, however the writing doesn’t make it confusing or difficult to follow, instead it straightforwardly loses sight of a gratifying climax.

Amy Adams crashes down on the previously mentioned downsides of The Woman in the Window and delivers an utterly impressive performance as Dr. Anna Fox. I expected a lot from this film and was let down in many ways — admiringly, Adams never lets me down regardless. She always perfectly grasps her character’s emotional stance and portrays these emotions with true heart and a breathtaking perception of reality through the character’s eyes. The entire cast is remarkable and work well together, playing off each other’s reactions and movements, but Adams in particular is stupefying. She has a few strings of monologues in this film and let me tell you… watching it just for those might actually be worth it.

The Woman in the Window, now streaming on Netflix, could have easily been a purely enjoyable watch but its flaws are a little too bright to find your way past them. At the end of the day, I merely wish that the novel was given a better representation through film — anyhow, Adams’ performance pleasantly achieved that goal for her character. I recommend exposing yourself to this story in one way or another though; it’s your choice what form you want to delve into.



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