Film Review

Joe Wright’s The Woman In The Window

Joe Wright’s The Woman In The Window is one of those big, expensive, star studded thrillers you used to see in the 90’s a lot, ones that would have folks like Harrison Ford or Julia Roberts headlining, always backed up by a galaxy of impressive supportive talent. Here it’s Amy Adams, an actress I’m almost convinced can do pretty much anything she’s so good, playing an agoraphobic ex-psychologist who has been hiding away in her Manhattan brownstone for several months following some vague traumatic incident. She has regular sessions with an unhelpful shrink (an uncredited Tracey Letts, also adapting a screenplay from AJ Finn’s novel) and speaks forlornly with her estranged husband (Anthony Mackie, heard and not seen) over the phone, until her new neighbours across the way give her a real fright when she believes she witnesses a violent murder one night while spying from her window. The frantic husband (an explosively intense Gary Oldman with an accent I’ve never heard him do that I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist in the real world) insists nothing happened, his odd wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) looks on, a shady mystery woman (Julianne Moore) lurks about the place, and the cop (Brian Tyree Henry) in charge of helping out doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything. This film is an obvious homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and this is apparent in not only the central premise but many of the shots, colour schemes, musical cues and even old school movies that Amy has crooning in the background as she gets absolutely torqued on booze/medication cocktails to drive out the memory of some horrific past. I was more engaged with the narrative when it was about her and this past that has caused her to become such a ragged recluse. There’s a genuine mystery there and it’s shot and presented in a surprisingly artistic, unconventional and kaleidoscopic fashion that shirks the standards of dry Hollywood glossy cinematography these films usually employ and had me thoroughly immersed. The mystery as to what’s going on next door regarding this troubled family is also engaging in a lurid, potboiler kind of way, a bit overblown and melodramatic for its own sake but every plot turn and explanation does eventually check out, even if the road getting there is a bit of a loopy one. The acting is all solid, with Adams going all out for a truly impressive performance, Oldman being the most fired up and scary I’ve seen him since maybe Book Of Eli, which is a nice change of pace from his usual restraint of late. It’s far from the most original thriller out there and feels a bit scattered at times, but there’s a lot to enjoy with standout work from Adams and the trippy, borderline surreal internal world of her mind, with intense visual cues probing at a haunting mystery the film deftly withholds from us for some time juxtaposed against the stark, steep geography of her apartment full of curling staircases, gaunt angles and one hell of a rooftop patio, all brought to life by a creepy score from Danny Elfman, of all people. Fun times, if a bit… overstuffed for a 100 minute film.

-Nate Hill

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