12. A film released in 2021: The Woman in the Window (2021)
List Progress: 9/12
Oof, this movie is not great. The Woman in the Window is a 2021 release, but it was originally scheduled to come out in 2019. The second delay was due to Covid, something beyond the filmmakers’ control, but the first was because test audiences found the original cut confusing and sloppy. If this film is the revised, finished version, I am morbidly curious how bad the original cut was.
Amy Adams plays Anna, an agoraphobic woman who has been stuck inside her New York brownstone for ten months. She is separated from her husband and young daughter, and only really interacts with her therapist who comes by for regular sessions and her basement apartment tenant. When a family moves in across the street, she watches them through their windows and begins to fear that the father is abusing the wife and teenage son. She eventually witnesses a gruesome incident, but cannot get anyone to believe that what she saw was not the product of her alcohol-and-medication-addled mind. It’s a pretty solid thriller set-up, with some obvious homages to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, among other things. (The author of the original book is apparently involved in a plagiarism scandal, again among other things.) But a frantic and overworked visual style, uncanny acting, and sloppy set-ups and pay-offs rob the film of the trim, tight tension of the best thrillers.
The final twenty minutes of the film wander into a different genre from what came before it, which feels like an admission that they hadn’t sufficiently set-up the pieces needed for the conclusion and had to morph into a slasher film at the end. Some twists could be seen a mile off, while others felt random and like they came out of nowhere. And speaking of random, some of the visual effects were so strange and chaotic as to pull you out of the moment.
I won’t pretend I didn’t have a good time at some points. The Woman in the Window is a schlocky thriller, and thrillers are almost always watchable; it’s one of the most appealing aspects of the genre. But there are so many better examples of thrillers out there, at least a few of which this movie ripped off.
Would I Recommend It: Not really.
Bonus Mini Review:
El baile de los 41 (The Dance of the 41) (2020) is a gorgeous, painful period piece about a secret group of high society gay men in 1901 Mexico, and how they tried to navigate both their respectable public lives and their private truths. It has one of the most nuanced explorations of a closeted man/woman-as-a-beard marriage I’ve ever seen. The production design is beautiful, especially the costuming, and it is a potent tale of love and loss. I would highly recommend it.