Directed By Joe Wright
Starring – Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie
The Plot – An agoraphobic woman (Adams) living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors, only to witness a disturbing act of violence.
Rated R for violence and adult language
– Stylistically serene. Blessed with an abundance of color and personality radiating from the movie’s tremendous production value, we are vividly entranced with a set design and practical lighting scheme that play terrifically towards the confines of this mostly one stage setting throughout. With the interiors mostly harvesting a dark and dampening atmosphere to play towards the condition of the claustrophobic protagonist, the beaming light from the windows reflect an air of hypnotically translucent optimism for her that serves as an alluring intrigue in contrast to the consistency of what permeates indoors. When splashed on the variety of color within the apartment, it breathes life into the movie’s compositions with an almost surreal emphasis, playing into the captivation of the plot device for if what we’re seeing is in fact reality, or a manifestation of the jaded lead character to play towards her frail psyche.
– Disjointed editing. This intentional over-indulgence of visual flare is obviously playing towards a bigger picture, and once we learn more about what is taking shape in the foreground of the story, we start to receive clarity in the form of the many cryptic images that make up the abundance of the movie’s transitioning sequences. Some are a mental ghost persisting within Anna’s tortured past that mentally haunt the apartment, and some abrupt cuts into the heat of the moment within a scene play towards the disjointed state of reality that we colorfully interpret in the many daily habits and abundance of medication that she’s unable to shake. Some of these cuts will feel jarring to the audience who perceive them, requiring them to pay attention more faithfully than they otherwise would for throwaway exposition scenes, but I always appreciate an immersive experience that can detail a unique condition for an audience not familiar with such, stitching together reality in a way that is difficult to interpret without feeling confusing towards the integrity of the narrative.
– Sleek cinematography. Give director of photography, Bruno Delbonnel, credit in the manner of conjuring up many unorthodox movements and ambitious compositions that better paint the unnerving emotional disconnect that he harvests materially in the movie’s atmosphere. In this respect, it feels like Delbonnel is obscuring our expectations in the way every sequence is shot, shifting direction during the precise moment when our attention is needed to focus, and spinning us on a track that plays towards the physicality of what is featured in frame. Such an example exists within a phone sequence where Anna connects to the police department, and spins back and forth in a chair during the progression of her wait. During this, Bruno tilts the camera in the same manner that Anna moves while seated, immersing us with a POV captivity that articulates the character’s boredom all the while transitioning us to a detail in caption that alludes us to something taking shape in the distance of her dwindling attention. It’s easily the single best element to the movie’s exceptional production, conveying psychology to its compositions that give greater meaning towards the movie’s often ambiguous imagery.
– Sky of stars. Joe Wright certainly aligns Hollywood’s biggest names for an ensemble that is every bit rich in depth as it is rewarding in unconventional renderings. In this respect, Amy Adams hands in another spellbinding performance as Anna, but with an emotional and mental frailty that challenges and contorts her performance in ways we haven’t seen from the generational talent, giving us her most physically grueling commitment today that once more transforms our perception of her talents. Beyond Adams, it was great to see Gary Oldman once more playing towards the sinister side of his emotional unraveling. He’s spent so much time inspiring us over the last decade with these monumental protagonists that we forgot he’s equally as gifted in losing himself to the maniacal nature of misunderstood characters, giving us one more memorable scene-stealing turn because of the opportunity. Finally, one of my favorite new generation stars in Wyatt Russell captivates with an ambiguity for characterization that plays terrifically towards the skeletons in the closet that his character is keeping, allowing Russell to ramp up the deliveries with the energetic trepidation of sensitivity that his character most notably identifies with.
– Bumbling dialogue. In what could be another example of the mental disconnect between Anna and the real world surrounding her, the dialogue too disperses an array of on-the-nose lines and straining conversation that I had trouble connecting to. There’s certainly an unnatural quality that resonates from the many characters interacting with Anna, attaining an unnatural quality that often plays its hand too early in the interaction to maintain intrigue throughout, but the problem also has to do with the situating of characters in any given scene. Considering these are the moments we depend on to give us clarity in the mental fog that is Anna’s daily routine, the overwhelming ambiguity creates an unnecessary obstacle that stands in the way of our interpretation, weighing heavily on our dwindling interest with the repetitive nature of its intention. It’s frustrating for all of the wrong reasons, and wastes what little time we have towards piecing together the meat of the material.
– Varied conveniences. Without spoiling anything, I will say that there are situations and instances in the film where logic was subdued for the sake of perpetuating a narrative that could’ve easily been solved in a matter of minutes. Such an instance persists in the police procedural side of the narrative, or lack there of, where a duo of detectives show up at the crime scene, and don’t even search the apartment of the accused, nor even take fingerprints to solidify their interpretation? In fact, if the movie didn’t tell me that these two were cops in their introductory scene, their purpose to the story would’ve totally alluded me. In addition to this, the plot device of agoraphobia in this narrative felt like a completely missed opportunity from an exploration of the condition, often contradicting itself by keeping Anna indoors all the while allowing her to let an array of strangers in without second thought. In terms of accuracy, it’s not the most truthful approach to the condition, instead serving as a convenience for when the film needs it most.
– Absurd twists. At the very least, this film has no problem getting as batshit crazy as the rest of them, but it’s kind of a backhanded compliment when you consider the lack of impact from each of them is laughably rendered in the overall bigger picture. Instead of a logically thinking screenplay within the context of psychology for its characters, the film instead takes the craziest route (Not a compliment) on its way to conjuring up something memorable in the minds of its audience. The first of these twists I feel is revealed far too early to feel effectively registered, taking shape at the end of the second act, with a whole 35 minutes left in the movie’s run time. The other is so preposterously followed through and predictably detectable that it only further illustrates the corner that this movie wrote itself into, where disappointment was inevitable. This is where Wright’s direction is most underutilized because the revelation materializes with a complete lack of intrigue or resonating impact for the way it’s delivered, cementing an inevitability of disappointment in the narrative that I felt early on.
– Shameful rehashing. I myself haven’t read the novel of the same name that the movie is based on, but considering that the author received legal trouble for copying another novel called “Saving April”, I’m not at all surprised by the lack of inspiration associated with the script or the use of its device. Obscured by much better captivity films of the genre, like “Rear Window” or “Disturbia”, “The Woman in the Window” does very little with the gimmick that feels fresh or avoiding of the derivative nature that encompasses the experience candidly throughout. In fact, there were several times throughout the film where I was unpleasantly reminded of literal sequences from those previous movies that were borrowed from, all the while conveying a mentality that constantly shouts that I am not watching the best version of this film that I possibly could be.
– Contradicting hand. “The Woman in the Window” is the latest victim of post-movie reshoots and production troubles that convoluted its often inconsistent execution. This is most noticeably evident in the sharp artistic contrast between the first and second half in the movie, where the former is blessed with the abundance of everything that I previously mentioned in my positives, and the second half stilts everything with a routine that is as conventionally bland as these reshoots typically allow. It’s often a film that is subjected to feeling like two diversely opposite directions clashing together to make one Frankenstein finished product, garnering an array of negatively arising problems that undercuts its execution. Choppy editing, conventional visualization, and even these cheesy computer generated blood splatters are mere aspects of this underwhelming redo, shifting this once promising narrative to a soulless shell of a finished product that reeks of inexperienced studio influence.
– Overstepped boundaries. How can musical compositions so overtly influential and intruding come from the masterful mind of Danny Elfman? With some of the best thrillers that I’ve ever seen, the compositions can either hurt or help the experience, and thanks in whole to the overwhelming transparency of its use in this movie, Elfman’s latest has fallen by the wayside of the former. Most of the problem stems from these series of musical cues overriding the integrity of the performance and the environmental aspects. This often conveys to the audience what they should be feeling instead of what they audibly interpret, leading to a meandering direction that undercuts the tension established in every scene. For my money, silence and even creeks in the floorboards would’ve aided this movie and its accommodating sequences dramatically in articulating Anna’s isolation, all the while playing into the mental frailty that play pivotally towards the thrills department in the area, to which there are virtually none.
My Grade: 4/10 or D-