Let's Please Stop Subjecting Amy Adams to This
As many of you may already know, Amy Adams is my favorite actress. I saw that she was the lead in this and that it's directed by Joe Wright. I dig the premise, I like everything else I saw about it. It had the makings of a good movie, on paper. In practice? Not so much. This all played out like a discount Hitchcock wanna-be. It was so blatant that Wright wanted to pay homage to Hitchcock - and not just Rear Window, but all of it. And while that's admirable, it didn't come across as homage; it turned out being an inferior rip-off. Adams does her level best with what she's given, but her always great performance and nice to look at cinematography can't save this mess by the end. Let's take a look at precisely why this didn't land.
I think this film had the groundwork of what could have been a solid thriller. Sadly, it was in the execution in which it falls flat on its face. Granted, there are noteworthy scenes and moments in this film which do work on several levels. However, those were too sparse, leaving us with a pretty uneven screenplay. The film was pretty much tonally all over the place. It couldn't decide whether it wanted to be staunchly serious, or if it wanted to be campy schlock. Additionally, the film plays with psychological thriller elements when in all actuality, it wants so badly to be Rear Window. That's where the film completely lost me. Let's please just not try to be Hitchcock, and just be Joe Wright. The editing of the film was also curious. There were some editing choices which were certainly...choices. I saw a review in which it said "congratulations to the editor for completing editing school at iMovie Academy. It was a tough three days, but you did it, my friend!" I couldn't help but laugh because it's so true, given the editing choices that if you see, you'll know. All that aside, the film had a blueprint for success, and ultimately it took the road far often too travelled - and one you simply just shouldn't.
Now, I know I just said this had the recipe, the blueprint if you will, for success. Usually that means the screenplay. But, again, you can't have a great film without a great screenplay. And this just wasn't it. It's entirely possible that the source material, the novel of the same name, wasn't all that quality to begin with. And I will reconcile that, if true. However, you can always make creative choices in the screenplay which can improve it. And clearly, this was not done. So, to stray away from my shade I'm throwing on it, I'll go with some compliments. Firstly, I felt that the character work with Amy Adams' character was fairly well done, for the most part. We cared for her and rooted for her at the start, and her character was deepened and much was explained to show why she is the way she is. That I can respect. Also, the structure of the screenplay was solid, up until the end. The first two acts are relatively strong, whereas the final third act, climax, and epilogue are just comically bad. As I mentioned before, there are scenes which work, dialogue which I thought was good, and moments that are taut and full of intrigue and suspense. Again, the lead-up was there; it just didn't stick the ending. And you absolutely have to for a thriller like this.
Okay, so admittedly, this is a bit harsh. Obviously I don't think everything about this film is bad. I mentioned earlier that I thought the cinematography was nice to look at, Amy Adams delivered an always reliably committed performance, and the first two acts are pretty good. However, it's just...almost...everything else. I have to reiterate: it just was not a good look to steal directly from Hitchcock. Yeah, yeah, I've heard homage and all that, blah blah... My point is: just make it your own! This thing had every opportunity to be good. It's such a disappointment when you try to be something you're clearly not. My other complaints are that it's just laughably cheesy, hoakey, and campy when it's not even trying to be. Especially that final act. I cannot stress enough how cringe-worthy that final confrontation is. Just, how it all plays out, the obvious nods to Psycho, Vertigo, etc etc. Not to mention, almost the entire film was entirely predictable! Now granted, there was a twist (that I won't mention) that I wasn't expecting and was well done and well placed. I will give it that. But what I won't give it is that very nearly everything else was so unbelievably predictable in every conceivable way. And if you're gonna have a murder mystery/psychological thriller, it damn well better NOT be easily predicted by your audience!
It bears repeating, this had every reason to be a good, possibly even great film. Alas, we're left with the campy, window dressing, wanna-be Hitchcock rip-off. This just ain't it, folks. It's especially disappointing when you have so much talent in front of and behind the camera. Amy Adams does everything she can to elevate the material she's been given, but it's just not enough. Despite some eye-popping cinematography, and some sparsely solid moments, this still fails to reach the levels we thought it could. The first and second acts might intrigue and even impress, but the third act is such a colossal dumpster fire that it never stood a chance. The film fails so hard to stick the landing at the end that it was just DOA. The film's execution does nothing where favors are concerned - so much that the film has an identity crisis. It can't decide what it wants to be: a psychological thriller, a Hitchcockian murder mystery, or a cheesy camp slash fest. In the end, the film fails miserably to deliver us what was promised: a truly great twisty/turny thriller for the new age.
The Woman in the Window is a Netflix Original Film and can be found streaming exclusively on Netflix.