The Woman in the Window: Old Wine in New Bottle

By Rupomanjari Pal

Pic: Canva

"And I stand there in the dark: cold, utterly alone, full of fear and something that feels like longing." - A quote from A.J. Finn's book "The Woman in the Window" that makes us wonder- Aren't we all? ( considering the uncertain lifestyle we've all been enduring more or less, since last year.) After a long wait, director Joe Wright gifts us a psychological thriller with a very familiar plot, yet something different.

As a thriller fan, the story did not seem surprising at all. Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 classic, "Rear Window" would steal away the whole concept. The difference would lie in the psychological aspect of the movie. Dr. Anna Fox (Amy Adams), a child psychologist, is agoraphobic, which hinders her from exploring outside her Manhattan brownstone apartment. Her social interaction includes taking house calls from her psychiatrist (Tracy Letts), and speaking on the phone to her husband (Anthony Mackie) who she’s separated from and their 8-year-old daughter, Olivia (who lives with him). Anna's condition traps her inside, drowning in cocktails and prescription medicines, yet she is curious about the lives beyond the four walls, as she carefully observes her new neighbour across the street, the Russells. Although she constantly struggles with her nervousness and social anxiety, Anna turns out to be pretty welcoming and friendly towards her tenant David (Wyatt Russell) who lives in the basement and helps out with the maintenance of the house, and even the Russells, Ethan (Fred Hechinger) and later on befriends her mother (Julianne Moore) ( whom she assumes to be Mrs. Jane Russell). One night, Anna witnesses Jane being stabbed to death in the living room and contacts the police, but they do not believe her, claiming everyone in the family is fine. Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman) arrives along with "Jane" who, to the shock of Anna, is a different woman from the one she met. Thus she begins exploring and intervening in the life of the Russells through her captivity to uncover the truth.

So far, Anna could be any of us. Being confined in our spaces, struggling with our sanity and survival, and maintaining social distancing is tough. All we can do is hope that one-day things will get better and we'll be able to enjoy the company of people. This connects the viewers with the character Anna. Amy Adams' performance is close to perfection. In fact, the cast consists of prominent talents, which felt somewhat underused. The direction and cinematography can be identified undoubtedly as Hitchcockian, which saves the climax till the very end. Although good ideas were noted, the storytelling feels slightly disconnected. Tracy Letts is a brilliant playwright, but this would not be one of his best works. The dialogue and editing in the movie felt off, the flow of conversation was unnatural and the contrast between Anna's reality and her figment of imagination was a bit blurry. What the movie really missed was the thrill, the tension between every moment. Nonetheless, it keeps you invested till the end. Hence, I would rate "The Woman in the Window" a 3 out of 5 and definitely worth a watch (and based on many bookworms, a must-read).