Failing to give characters a name was once a noble and interesting avenue for a creative to take. Now, it is just a bit annoying. Windfall is a bit annoying. To its credit, it pools a strong trio of actors skirting around the B-List. Jason Segal appears to be a firm favourite of director Charlie McDowell, their second collaboration with one another and a rare leading placement for Segal. Hard times since The Muppets Movie ran the rounds and How I Met You Other was put down. But Windfall hopes to provide some new energy to Segal, along with Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons too. That claustrophobic cast, broken up every now and then by the appearance of Omar Leyva, should lend to the claustrophobic animosity clearly aimed at here.
It does not. Segal’s “Nobody” breaks into the home of a tech CEO (Plemons) who definitely isn’t some arbitrary criticism of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos. McDowell can hardly cover the glee he has for being so smart and witty, relating a very stringent and simplistic script to real-world events as though he’s convinced himself that he was the first to do so. “Nobody” appears as that wild-eyed fan, and to his credit, Segal portrays that well. Windfall is a real bluster of frustration. Its performers are game for a tense bit of drama that soon, inevitably, spills into a commentary on how far an individual would go for money.
Collins is left to deal with that atmosphere as Plemons and Segal do the back and forth of violent intent. Windfall goes a long way in trying to understand the mind of the robber that ties up and mistrusts the two accidental captives and doesn’t do much else. It is a self-eating feature, one that sets itself up for simplicity and dialogue-driven moments, and ends with those dialogue-driven moments completely killing the intensity and strange feeling underlining it all. Touring a lavish house with three solid actors trading verbal blows, from a strange encounter with a sauna and the ego on display from a CEO to the tiring, later moments that discuss wealth and resentment.
Wandering through fields of fine oranges and flashy explorations of the scenery around them, Windfall looks good on the surface but to scratch away even an inch of it is to unravel and ruin this feature entirely. Its prime issue is that it believes itself to be much smarter than it is. Don’t Look Up, but commenting on wealth attribution and the 1%. All the usual tokenisms are spoken of, but not understood. At least there are strong performers at the heart of this to carry the slower moments, of which there are many. McDowell believes contemplation in the sunniest and nicest of venues makes for entertaining times. But there are only so many hours in a film, so many days it can process itself as a strange trio relationship between kidnapper and kidnappees. It eventually devolves into a love-hate relationship between unlikely friends and foes, and Windfall does so without knowing it. McDowell and his cast aren’t ready for the basic changes, and it kills the feature stone dead.