Joe Wright’s “The Woman in the Window” wears much of its influence and inspiration on its sleeve. Before we meet the character Anna, the camera pans past a still shot of Jimmy Stewart from “Rear Window.” This sets the stage for a movie clearly influenced by Hitchcock’s masterpiece that completely misses the mark on every level. Wright’s film is a long troubled production that could have managed more editing here and there, as it’s a sloppy, droning, and genre confused mess.
After losing touch with her estranged family, Dr. Anna Fox is a young woman stricken with PTSD and Agoraphobia. Confined to her sprawling brownstone house, a new family moves across the street that grabs her curiosity. After meeting the particularly unusual wife and befriending their son, Anna is convinced she’s witnessed a murder. As she struggles to convince authorities of what she’d witnessed, she begins to wonder if a crime really took place or if she’s mentally spiraling in to disaster.
“The Woman in the Window” has a serious identity crisis leaning heavily in to a clumsy mystery. There are so many red herrings introduced over the course of the narrative that become one exhausting fake out after another. Is Dave (Wyatt Russell) the downstairs tenant a bad man or not? Is he evil or not? Is he stalking Anna or not? Why should I care? Why does his back story matter so much only to be proven absolutely pointless when the climax rolls around? By the time Anna realizes what’s happening I’d completely checked out and was just waiting for it to come to an end.
Joe Wright’s often slick, somewhat pulpy direction is completely wasted on what is an absolute slog that lacks in any kind of tension, suspense, or chills. None of the stakes feel high and nothing Anna ever does ever make us empathize with her as we’re never quite sure where this is all leading. Is it one big paranoid delusion, or is there a real murderer afoot? I frankly was begging for the movie to just get to the point, and once it does, it’s a cheap plot point tacked for the sake of rushing to the finish line. Speaking of wasted, the all star cast are pissed away in a flurry of pointless asides.
Anthony Mackie and Jennifer Jason Leigh have glorified walk on cameos, Julianne Moore is a glorified plot device, and Gary Oldman tries to salvage such a silly character. “The Woman in the Window” is a neat concept with obvious influence from Hitchcock, but it’s such a miserable mess of a movie. It wants desperately to be a drama, a psychological thriller, and a murder mystery, and every time it seems to be going somewhere, it just completely rides off the rails.
Streaming Exclusively on Netflix.