‘Woman in the Window’ Review: Netflix Sells Us Another Hollywood Failure

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Netflix

Woman in the Window is so awful, I’m angry at Netflix for wasting my time by pretending it had snagged some Big Hollywood Movie, when what it really had was a flaming dud with a troubled history.

Woman in the Window is based on the best-selling novel by A.J. Finn, a proven fabulist. Reportedly, the movie itself suffered through terrible test screenings, delays, and reshoots only to be salvaged from the direct-to-video fate it deserved by Netflix, who used this stinker’s pedigree to pretend it was offering us a prime rib instead of roadkill.

The premise itself is played out, the premise being someone witnessing a murder through a window and no one believing witness. This idea didn’t even start with Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window (1954). First there was Bobby Driscoll in The Window (1954). Since, we’ve had Disturbia (2007), The Bedroom Window (1987), Fright Night (1985), The Darklings (1999), Body Double (1984), etc. So what’s the point of another when we all know the tropes?

To overcome this obstacle, director Joe Wright delivers an A-list cast: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and then over-directs this thing to the point of absurdity. Woman in the Window is positively pumped with a style so empty it becomes embarrassing to watch.

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Everything in Woman in the Window is turned up to eleven, most especially Danny Elfman’s screeching score.  The editing, the performances, the shot… It’s pure bombast, pure desperation trying to hold up a plot that is both exhausted, poorly constructed, and sexless.

Adams plays Anna Fox, a chubby, pale agoraphobic woman who lives on pills, red wine, and old movies (like Rear Window!)  within a vast, three-story Harlem townhouse. All day and night, she runs around in her socks and a robe, enjoys at-home therapy sessions, and has everything delivered to her door.

For reasons that make no sense, she becomes interested in the Russells, a family that moves in across the street and who never bother to install curtains or shades. Then, for some reason, their creepy teenage son (Fred Hechinger) befriends Anna, as does his mom (Julianne Moore), who’s named “Jane Russell” just because…

Then Anna sees mom butchered and no one believes her and it’s all so over-cooked, over-acted, and over-amped, you don’t care. There are twists you see coming a mile away and the only real mystery is how something so ill-conceived ever got past the script stage.

The one performance I enjoyed was Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Little. In a swirl of insanity, he’s conveys  a grounded humanity that makes you wish everything about the movie were as subtle and straight-forward.

I honestly don’t know if Woman in the Window might have been saved with a more low-key approach. I also wonder what  a Brian DePalma in his prime might have done with it. The conclusion is pure DePalma, but one that reeks of frantic rewrites.

Netflix really needs to stop stooping down to pick up Hollywood’s garbage and then selling it to us as Look-At-How-You’re-Getting-An-Amy-Adams-Gary-Oldman-Movie-For-$14.99-A-Month!!

What’s really sad is how Woketardery was able to turn this movie — a movie about voyeurism — into something as sexless and sterile as Bible Study — oh, wait, that’s not fair; there’s sex in the Bible.

How did Hollywood become so broken that a movie about window peeping has zero sex, zero erotica?

A total waste of time and talent.

 

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.

 

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