Wanting to coast along on its Alfred Hitchcock influence, The Woman in the Window does little to separate itself from Rear Window. That is fertile ground to harvest from, and if done right then there is certainly room for characters within this Joe Wright-directed piece to flourish and grow. Here is the shut-in neighbour, nosey not out of interest for others but out of boredom. She uncovers a potential murder and must work from home (like all of us have done for the past year) to solve a potential case of crime. You may know these narrative beats inside out, but it is what The Woman in the Window does with them that brings out the most interest of all. Not much is the answer, but bless them for trying.
Adams’ relatively engaging performance aside, there is little depth to be had within. She portrays Anna Fox, a by-the-books representation of pill-popping, alcohol-straddling horror. She lolls about on the couch, watching old movies and quoting them verbatim, as we all do, I suppose. She is the shut-in that many of us are slowly crumbling into, and that does seem to be an appropriate, sudden effect of the many delays The Woman in the Window suffered. Adams’ character becomes that extra something through exterior forces. She is in her own bubble, people come and go and offer their help and support, but she doesn’t care to hear it. There is, to some degree, a decent representation of agoraphobia. Adams’ role is the only opportunity to show this, as the dialogue and supporting performances does not keep it alive for all that long.
Considering the calibre of actors that surround and support Adams, the lack of quality is surprising. Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Wyatt Russell are all on autopilot, not exactly offering incredibly inspired material, nor sinking themselves badly enough to warrant a rescue operation and a new casting agent. Tracy Letts and A.J. Finn craft an unfortunately predictable narrative style. Their slow-burning antics last too long, and the pay-off doesn’t warrant such sluggish pacing. It is the type of spiel that suits the directing craft of Joe Wright, who has more than enough room to toy with camera and character but doesn’t feel all that confident when doing so.
Embarrassing at times, the knock-off Hitchcock aesthetic and the flutteringly dense characters are grating and underwhelming. “Why not make today the day you go outside?” Dr. Landy (Letts) asks. Is there a theme running through cinema where doctors named Landy are useless? I ask only after Love & Mercy portrayed Eugene Landy as the horrid, Brian Wilson-controlling monster he apparently was. I imagine agoraphobia makes it rather difficult to leave the house. There are the usual controlling comparisons between Landy and Landy, the two are intertwined, but The Woman in the Window is too reserved. It never makes much of a fuss about anything it sets out to do, and what it sets out to do is rip off Rear Window.