I love a good psychological thriller, and those adapted from novels usually hit the mark. That said, The Woman in the Window, directed by Joe Wright based on A.J. Finn’s novel of the same name and adapted by Tracy Letts, doesn’t land in that sweet spot of confusing mystery and thrilling solution that films like Gone Girl do. Instead, The Woman in the Window is a ride, and a wild one at that. This Netflix Original film stars a strong cast featuring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Julianne Moore.
In the film, Anna Fox ( Amy Adams) is an agoraphobic child psychologist who finds herself keeping tabs on the picture-perfect family across the street through the windows of her New York City brownstone. But, her life is turned upside down when she inadvertently witnesses a brutal crime. Over the hour and 40-minute runtime, shocking secrets are revealed, and nothing and no one is what they seem. Told through Anna’s perspective, the film weaves through a narrative that’s goal is to confuse. While this is how a mystery can be told, The Woman in the Window bounces the audience back and forth between thinking that Anna is being gaslighted by everyone around her to question Anna’s reality.
While I appreciate the way The Woman in the Window wraps together two mysteries – the first being the crime that Anna witnessed and the second being Anna’s life – it’s done with a heavy hand. Now, I understand that a mystery making a certain air of confusion is necessary, but this film’s structure seems confusing for confusion’s sake. This is especially noticeable in the film’s third act when the story begins to fall into place, and answers are found.
The Woman in the Window is a testament to how a strong cast can only go so far as the script allows them to. As Anna, Adams does give a solid performance. For the role, she’s transformed in a way that allows her to flex her dramatic acting muscle. That said, Adams is let down by the confusion she’s thrust into. For the film’s first act, she holds the role and the story together well enough to keep you engaged. But as the truths begin to be revealed, and the rapid pace of everything around her and how it adds layers to what she and the viewer believes to be true, Adams is swallowed up by the story.
Finally, the last act of the film is not only confusing but feels like an entirely different film altogether. In fact, the revelations are interesting, but the setting and resolution are so absurd that it’s actually hard to hold in laughter as Anna fights for her life from the person behind the crime she witnessed. Now, while The Woman in the Window isn’t necessarily good, it is a wild ride that offers a very specific kind of mess that will not only intrigue but entertain some viewers.
In the end, The Woman in the Window is a strange film. It’s hilariously campy at moments where it doesn’t mean to be, and it’s a story that swallows its actors. While the film had a long road to being released on Netflix, those production issues can’t come into play when watching the film. Instead, you just watch a weird mystery that turns into a story about grief, and then back into a story about a secret killer, and then back into one about overcoming your fear. But along the way, it feels like any purpose is missed. And while Adams is a strong lead, it’s hard to find a place where this film succeeds.
The Woman in the Window is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.
The Woman in the Window
- Rating - 3.5/103.5/10
In the end, The Woman in the Window is a strange film. It’s hilariously campy at moments where it doesn’t mean to be, and it’s a story that swallows its actors. While the film had a long road to being released on Netflix, those production issues can’t come into play when watching the film. Instead, you just watch a weird mystery that turns into a story about grief, and then back into a story about a secret killer, and then back into one about overcoming your fear. But along the way, it feels like any purpose is missed.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.