‘The Woman in the Window’ review: Best to draw the curtains on this one

Amy Adams headlines the under-delivering ‘The Woman in the Window’, a psychological-thriller riddled with clichés

The Woman in the Window at first plot glance seems like a rendition of The Girl on the Train. But it goes no deeper than that. Based on the eponymous book by AJ Finn, the film is directed by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement).

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Amy Adams stars as Dr Anna Fox, an agoraphobic children’s psychologist who lives in a townhouse across the street from a newly-occupied home. According to Dr Fox, she is separated from her husband Ed (played by Anthony Mackie) and often consults with her own mental health professional as she navigates her isolation and fear to step out of her home.

Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman) and his autistic son Ethan Russell (Fred Hechinger), having moved into the said home across the street, leave varying impressions on Anna. While Alistair is aloof, Ethan takes a strong liking to Anna. She also meets Ethan’s mother (Julianne Moore) who is a far cry from Alistair; she’s edgy, sports a couple of tattoos and swears like a sailor. She and Anna have an adorably drunken night with Real Housewives’ amount of wine and prescribed medication – you know, to build some connection.

Things take a turn when one night, Anna peeks into the unshuttered windows of the Russells’ and sees her new friend being stabbed by an unknown assailant. This marks a descent into a panic so bizarre, it will confuse even the most tuned-in viewer. In the middle of all of this, Anna’s tenant, David (Wyatt Russell) who lives in her basement, notices her instability and though it seems as though his purpose is to serve as a support and an alibi for Anna, the story would honestly not change much if he was not there.

As we watch Anna spiral, Ethan crumble under his father’s domineering nature, Alistair bellow at everyone who so much as moves, it is frankly hard to empathise with anyone – including Anna – whereas reading the book builds better-paced tension and fills gaping plot holes that are prevalent in the film.

There are few projects where the score outdoes a film – this is one of them, with a haunting score by Oscar-nominated Danny Elfman. The film’s immersive sound design, thanks to Paul Carter, features the occasional rains, footsteps, stairs creaking and David’s weird nightly activities, all designed to make Anna question what is real or not.

The film is riddled with clichés and suffers from déjà vu at every turn on top of the overwhelming sense of disconnect between the characters. It is unfortunate given the considerable star power. The Woman in the Window promises a lot but ultimately under-delivers. Plus, if you can pick up on some of the tried and tested tropes of these ‘Lifetime’ kind of thrillers, the killer’s identity will not surprise you one bit.

If you are up for a creepy neighbour content, throw it back to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window – even Ugly Naked Guy from Friends would have more impact.

‘The Woman in the Window’ is streaming on Netflix

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