Film Reviews

“Annoying Characters and Emotional Platitudes” – Film Review: The Woman In The Window

Alex Watkin

Directed by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Darkest Hour), The Woman in the Window is a pretentious botch. It wants to be a serious psychological drama and a silly slasher mystery at the same time, but by trying to combine the two, it miserably fails at both. Amy Adams plays the main character Anna Fox, who is agoraphobic and so afraid of leaving her own home. When new neighbours move in across the street, she begins to watch them from her window and believes she sees a horrific act of violence.

The film is entirely from Anna’s perspective. So naturally, this and the setup suggests the film will deal with the blurring of reality due to the effects of isolation. However, this is not the case. Anna gets regular human contact with her tenant who lives in the basement. The question of what is real and what is not isn’t psychologically caused, instead it’s predominantly due to the lame contrivance of medication combined with alcohol. 

The film never sits still, so you aren’t able to acclimatise to the reality of agoraphobia

There are some cinematic flourishes that make the most of Anna’s subjective POV, but overall the presentation is tonally misplaced. The film is edited at breakneck speed, as if Anna’s solitary life is comparable to the life of an action hero. The film never sits still, so you aren’t able to acclimatise to the reality of agoraphobia. Why anyone would edit this film, like this, is mindboggling. The film is clearly a compromised vision, so it is no surprise to learn it went through a turbulent postproduction being re-edited after bad test screenings.

The only emotions I experienced were boredom and mild irritation

The editing is completely void of confidence; it is desperate to keep its audience hooked through fast cuts and a painful score by Danny Elfman. Elfman’s score is the most generic post Dark Knight fodder I think I’ve ever heard outside of amateur imitations on YouTube. The postproduction hack job has resulted in a film which is cheap emotional manipulation of the finest order. The only emotions I experienced were boredom and mild irritation.

The main cause of this irritation was the dialogue. It is constantly sarcastic and overly dramatic. It isn’t just a problem for one character; it’s a problem for every character. Almost all the dialogue scenes are nauseating slogs; every character is constantly backchatting with arrogant quips. The dialogue prevents any of the characters being likable, everyone just comes off as constantly abrasive. The script completely lacks subtlety and so no one ever feels like a real person.

Almost the entire film takes place within Anna’s swanky house in New York, but unfortunately the lacklustre characterisation extends to the set design. Unfortunately, the house falls into the trap of looking like an Ikea showroom rather than a real place. It’s design is all surface; nothing about is particularly specific to Anna. However, Anna herself is poorly defined beyond basic facts, so in fairness to the set design, it didn’t have much to work with.

The third act fails to explore Anna’s psychology

Before the third act, I was naively optimistic the film could somewhat salvage itself. The third act had the opportunity to explore Anna’s search for emotional resolve to regain a sense of reality and truth. But just like the rest of the film, the third act fails to explore Anna’s psychology. The ending completely strips the film of any ambiguity. All its questions of reality are nicely solved and wrapped up with a bow. The final moments of the film are so contrived, so easy and so emotionally simplistic it is actually shocking.  

There is no doubt that somewhere within The Woman in the Window there is a good film. Whether the film was good before the re-edits is highly unlikely, but within the very basic idea there is potential. The film frustratingly flirts with this potential , but never goes far enough in one direction. So ultimately, in its final form, it is a very bad murder mystery. It has no suspense, no genuine drama, just annoying characters and emotional platitudes.

2 stars

Alex Watkin

Featured image courtesy of Ian Kershaw via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @womaninthewindow via No changes made to these images.

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