Review: 'Woman in the Window' is, alas, a muddled mess

“Woman in the Window,” based on A

5/14/2021 6:31:00 AM

Review: WomanInTheWindow is, alas, a muddled mess

“Woman in the Window,” based on A

Adam plays Anna Fox, an agoraphobic child psychologist who, after a tragedy, is too frightened to leave her Harlem brownstone, which she keeps darkened, without the lights on. Just right there is a hint of the problems in “Woman in the Window.” The melodrama has been turned up to the max. In just one little character description you get psychology, kids, trauma, grief and gentrification. Anna is heavily medicated, including some large glasses of red wine.

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As a narrator, she's so abundantly unreliable that it makes the movie's coming twists all the more foreseeable. (I say this as someone who normally sees nothing coming.) Wright sticks closely to her perspective. The movie barely sets foot outside Anna's home, a 19th century townhouse with a circular staircase and, naturally, a skylight. Our experience of every encounter is, like Anna's paranoia, extremely heightened. No one just talks in “Woman in the Window." Every conversation of Anna's is full of probing and prying, veiled threats and landmines. The only exception is Henry's sensitive, melancholic police detective, a grounding force in a movie choking on its own atmosphere.

But by hewing close to Anna's own intense unease, “Woman in the Window” attempts something like the recent Oscar-winning “The Father,” which adapted its protagonist's dementia. This is the kind of stuff that Brian De Palma would eat for breakfast. He, surely, would find more disturbing and lurid avenues to explore here. headtopics.com

People just keep walking into Anna's home, including her basement tenant, an aspiring musician played by Wyatt Russell. She has a few bizarre meetings with members of a newly moved in family across the street (Oldman, Moore and Fred Hechinger, who plays the 15-year-old son Ethan). Picking up some very heavy cues, Anna begins to fear for the boy and spies across the street. One night, she's looking through a telephoto lens when she sees a woman thrown against the wall and stabbed in the belly. When police respond to Anna, she's told no one is missing. She's introduced by the woman she met, Jane Russell — only now it's a different Jane, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh.

With a churning score and a few flashy camera tricks, Wright lays it on thick. But the pacing and rhythm — perhaps the result of a lengthy post-production period of reshoots and recuts — feel wrong from the first minutes. It's a shame. Adult thrillers with stars and some scale are a rare breed. But the movie, straining for high brow when it should have just gone full trash, is a muddle from start to finish. After a year of quarantine and lockdown, it's all the more tempting — given the messy results — to listen to an early question posed by Anna: “Why not make today the day you go outside?”

“Woman in the Window,” a Netflix release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for violence and language. Running time: 100 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.___Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

Read more: The Independent »

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A very bad movie.

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