The Woman in the Window

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Amy Adams as Anna Fox in The Woman in the Window. (Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix)
Amy Adams as Anna Fox in The Woman in the Window. (Photo: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix)


The Woman in the Window




3/5 Stars


Confined by her agoraphobia, Anna Fox finds herself keeping tabs on the new family across the street through the windows of her NYC home. After witnessing a brutal crime, secrets begin to unravel and nothing and no one are what they seem.


Dr Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is trapped within the confines of her New York City brownstone. Her agoraphobia anxiety disorder prevents her from leaving her house. Spying on the neighbours through the windows of her dark home is what keeps her mind occupied in suppressing her past traumas.

The Woman in the Window, based on the novel by AJ Finn (real name Daniel Mallory), was originally set for a theatrical release in October 2019, but was delayed until May 2020 for reshoots after test audiences struggled to understand the plotlines.

"Oh my God. There were some plot points that people found a bit confusing — I would say possibly too opaque maybe," director Joe Wright, known for his work on films like Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, told Entertainment Weekly. He added: "So we had to go back and clarify certain points, but I think also we tried to make sure we didn't oversimplify anything and make things too clear."

The film was then scheduled for a May 2020 release which saw it postponed again due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After numerous delays Netflix finally picked up the film for an online release. The project was originally seen as Amy’s big Oscar chance after she’s been nominated six times before, but now those dreams have long faded.

The 46-year-old actor delivers a powerhouse performance and has built a character that the viewer will want to believe while struggling to trust completely. I can’t imagine a better fit for the role than Amy as she delivers on both the darker aspects of the character and the lighter moments of the film. An appearance by Julianne Moore sees the two iconic stars pair up on the screen for the first time, and although it only lasts a short time, it’s a powerful and memorable scene that later carries a lot of weight in putting the pieces of this thriller together.

Another standout performance comes from Wyatt Russell, as David. The 34-year-old actor, the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, packs a punch whenever he’s on screen and masterfully crafts a character that lurks in the shadows more than the light.

Director Joe Wright did a great job in focusing the story on the experiences of Anna without adding too much clutter in the background or even the setting. His use of light and colour in amplifying the mental state of the protagonist is truly masterful and beautiful to watch as it jumps from cold blue, warm orange, to almost acidic yellow. This helps the story unfold carefully as it slowly progresses from its own comfort zone.

Where it fails is in its handling of mental illness, and the topic of suicide in particular. I can only hope but assume that much around these important topics somehow landed on the cutting room floor when the film was re-edited. The film does little to destigmatise the preconceived notions around mental health and specifically medication needed to treat certain conditions.

Another damper on the success of the film is its timing. In a pre-pandemic world Anna’s story of being trapped inside her home would have been a very frightful and almost unimaginable situation, but after the world spent a year in their homes the mysterious element is more every-day than unexpected and Dr Anna’s story is more familiar than foreign – something I believe hinders the film from fully blossoming.

ALSO READ: The Woman in the Window star Amy Adams speaks to us about agoraphobia and 'missing people'


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