The Woman in the Window [Review]

The Woman in the Window is a psychological thriller based on the novel by A.J. Finn, and Netflix’s most recent attempt at staying on top of the streaming service market. Earlier this year, Netflix announced its plan to release new movies every week throughout the entire summer. Produced by 20th Century Fox, The Woman in the Window was originally supposed to be released in theatres in 2020, but was pushed due to the pandemic, until eventually it was acquired by Netflix. While I do consider The Woman in the Window to be an entertaining but mediocre movie, and not worth the $14.50 it would’ve cost to see in theatres, it does suck that Netflix is limiting certain movies to being just another “movie of the week.” Netflix likes to do this thing where it distributes as much original content as possible, regardless of quality, in the hopes of keeping people subscribing. Speaking as a subscriber, I find this strategy to be pretty overwhelming, especially since good movies are often being overshadowed by movies with big budgets and stacked casts like this one. Anyways, that’s my two cents. Let’s talk about the movie. 

The Woman in the Window is a film directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Darkest Hour), and stars Amy Adams (Arrival) as Anna Fox, an agoraphobic woman living on her own in New York. Over the course of the movie, Anna begins peering in on the lives of her wealthy new neighbours, only to witness a brutal murder. As Anna tries to unravel the crime that no one else believes was committed, her own sanity starts to unravel too. 

Woman in the Window, Amy Adams as Anna Fox

Like I said, The Woman in the Window provides plenty of entertainment, but it’s far from high-end cinema. It tries hard to be the next Disturbia (2007) or Rear Window (1954), even directly referencing Hitchcock’s classic in the first ten minutes, even though it doesn’t exactly offer any of the things that made those films great. In Rear Window, for example, the movie plays with the audience’s curiosity just as much as it does with the curiosity of its characters. We start to doubt what we know and lean towards what we believe, because there’s something nagging at us, telling us that something isn’t right. The Woman in the Window poses the question, “is something really going on, or is it all in Anna’s head?” Even though you probably already know the answer. In fact, I think it would have made for a better ending if it was all in Anna’s head. It would have flipped the switch on what we know to expect, and presented a deeper theme on the power of guilt and trauma. Instead, the movie becomes a full-blown slasher in its third act. 

Woman in the Window (2021), L to R: Jennifer Jason Leigh as Jane Russell, Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Little, Amy Adams as Anna Fox, Gary Oldman as Alistair Russell, and Wyatt Russell as David.

It’s no secret that Amy Adams has dished out some pretty great performances over the years in films such as The Fighter, Arrival, and HBO’s Sharp Objects, and while I wouldn’t exactly consider her performance as Anna in The Woman in the Window Oscar-worthy, it’s definitely a highlight of the movie. It’s a bit campy, a bit chaotic, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There’s even a scene in the film where Anna records herself contemplating suicide that I actually found to be quite powerful due to Adams’ performance. However, that’s more than I can say about anyone else in this film, because The Woman in the Window has a pretty sizable cast that it doesn’t utilize at all. Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Anthony Mackie, and Jennifer Jason Leigh only have a handful of scenes, and their performances aren’t necessarily bad, they just simply aren’t given enough to work with. 

All in all, The Woman in the Window is an entertaining film that doesn’t offer anything new to the genre, but doesn’t do anything to damper it either. It’s plot might be messy, but it’s disguised by hectic pacing and a few instances of interesting camerawork. If you’re a fan of the book, or you’re just looking for something fun to watch this weekend, I hope you enjoy The Woman in the Window!