After reshoots and multiple delays, mystery thriller The Woman in the Window has finally released on Netflix. Here’s why the reviews are so bad.
After reshoots and multiple delays, mystery thriller The Woman in the Window has finally released on Netflix – to overwhelmingly bad reviews. Based on the book of the same name by A.J. Finn and adapted for the screen by Tracy Letts, The Woman in the Window has a score of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes as of the time of writing.
The Woman in the Window stars Amy Adams as Dr. Anna Fox, a child psychologist who has become confined within the walls of her New York home by her crippling agoraphobia. Anna’s only escape comes from watching her neighbors and monitoring their lives. This hobby proves dangerous when Anna witnesses the murder of her new neighbor, Jane Russell, through the windows of the house across the street. Things only become more complicated when she reports the murder to the police and it’s revealed that Jane Russell is not only alive, but is a completely different woman from the Jane Russell that Anna met.
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Originally set for theatrical release in October 2019, The Woman in the Window underwent rewrites and reshoots after test screenings returned poor reactions from audience members. It later underwent further editing and pick-ups after changing hands in Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, and its new May 2020 release date was scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic. Netflix picked up the distribution rights in August 2020, and The Woman in the Window released on the streaming platform on May 14, 2021. Was it worth the wait? Not according to these reviews.
“It tries so hard to transmute this formulaic suspense novel into something finer that the twists and turns become almost incomprehensible. It dwells on its main character as though her emotional state were something contradictory and complex and not just an excuse for history’s least surprising reveal. There is something endearing about watching a high-end cast and crew treat this material with such seriousness, even if they all seem to have missed the point. Sometimes schlock is just schlock, and it’s better off treated that way.”
“The dialogue in The Woman in the Window is weirdly stilted, like someone’s chintzy mainstream-movie attempt at Pinter or Mamet. Adams’ performance is by turns commanding and tremulously self-conscious. And stuff keeps happening that’s so overwrought that the film, in its way, becomes a whirlpool of contrivance… The Woman in the Window would like to be a contempo Rear Window, but it’s so riddled with things you can’t buy that it plays like a bad Brian De Palma movie minus the camera movement.”
“As broken cinematic promises go, this one hurts worse than most, in part because we’ve been promised something precious and rare and sorely missed in the current topography of Hollywood. The high-sleaze erotic thriller is ripe for a comeback, but Anna’s cloistered game of hide and seek with her own fear lacks even the faintest trace of sex or comic irony.”
“The Woman in the Window, an overstuffed, floridly preposterous psycho-thriller starring Amy Adams, is the kind of movie that would love to be described as Hitchcockian. But the resemblances are cosmetic at best; really, a better term might be “Hitchcocky,” which comes closer to capturing its brand of swaggering, self-conscious homage.”
“Red herrings are in abundance but when none of them make an impression, what is the viewer supposed to do? Wright mistakenly drops references to classic films from Hitchcock and Preminger, as if by putting The Woman in the Window next to them it will be seen in the same light. Good luck with that. All it really does is highlight this film’s glaring weaknesses, and make you wonder how so much talent and promise could go so wrong.”
The Woman in the Window‘s main struggle seems to be an uncertainty over whether it wants to be a serious psychodrama or schlocky fun. Screenwriter Tracy Letts admitted that the writing process was a struggle, telling The Playlist, “It kind of sucked. It was really hard. It took a long time. It was harder than I thought it was going to be.” Despite its problems, though, some critics found The Woman in the Window to be overall worth a watch.
“Wright shapes it into a modern gothic tale of obsession, voyeurism and possible madness, as prismatic and furtive as a leaded-glass window. The picture is enjoyable not so much for its twisty plot—which, even if you haven’t already read the book, is essentially pretty guessable—as for its artful dedication to its own highly theatrical, drapes-drawn somberness.”
“Though it underwent an arduous journey to its release and is arguably a cobbling together of derivative elements, The Woman in the Window succeeds as a fun throwback to the grand days of noir.”
“The Woman in the Window works better if one decides to look at it as a deliberately heavy-handed Hitchcockian pastiche. Wright presents a film which despite lacking the subtlety of the productions it is clearly seeking to emulate, still manages to be hugely watchable mostly thanks to Adams’ peerless screen presence.”
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