The 2018 novel, "The Woman in the Window," by author A.J. Finn, was a hot property in Hollywood and almost immediately after its release, was green-lit as a feature film. It attracted Oscar-caliber talent, like Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman, with an adapted screenplay by Tracy Letts and Scott Rudin. Esteemed director Joe Wright ("Darkest Hour," "Atonement") was brought on board and "The Woman in the Window" looked like a surefire hit.
That is, until disastrous test screenings with audiences sent the movie back into post-production and delayed it from its original October 2019 release date. The pandemic put it out even farther, and 20th Century Studios was more than happy to sell it off to Netflix, who purchased the rights to the film and then unceremoniously dumped it as a mid-May release (Netflix, a PR powerhouse, did little to promote it and doesn't seem to have much confidence in its performance).
It's never a good sign when a movie goes through so much, but even in knowing the film's journey, it still lands as a massive disappointment when it arrives and is ever worse than you expect. With Adams, Oldman, Moore and also featuring Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell and Anthony Mackie (the latter two of whom were recent co-stars in "The Falcon & The Winter Soldier"), you expect something great, and "The Woman in the Window" is not great...even if glimpsed through a window from across the street would one never reach that conclusion.
Adams plays Dr. Anna Fox, a woman who has been traumatized to the point where she has become an agoraphobic, a person who is afraid to venture outside of the confines of her New York City apartment. She has a chance encounter with a woman named Jane Russell (Moore) and then soon after, witnesses a horrific murder taking place in a window at the neighboring high-rise. The scene of the crime is the apartment of one Alistair Russell (Oldman), but when Fox reports the crime, things aren't adding up. In fact, the woman she met as Jane Russell is not even Jane Russell, perhaps, and even the Detective who keeps responding to this crazy-person (Brian Tyree Henry) is skeptical.
It has the foundation to be an interesting, if somewhat familiar mystery/thriller, and the performances aren't the problem. The problem lies in the clunky dialogue, the disjointed plotting of scenes and the overly convoluted story. Nothing ever seems to groove, and for the most part, we can all sort of see where things are going and the film doesn't hit on anything particularly new or even interesting.
Adams does her best to hold things together, but she's limited by the one-note caricature she's portraying. Oldman has a couple good scenes and the overall cast tells you that there must have been something about the source material that was worth exploring. But all the re-editing in the world isn't enough to save "The Woman in the Window."
Like police officers might say as they shoe-away passer-bys of an inconsequential traffic accident: Please move along, there really is nothing to see here.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery.
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes.
Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Brian Tyree Henry, Julianne Moore, Wyatt Russell, Fred Hechinger.
Based on the novel by A.J. Finn
Directed by Joe Wright ("Darkest Hour," "Pan," "Anna Karenina," "The Soloist," "Atonement").
"The Woman in the Window" is on Netflix on Friday, May 14th, 2021.
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