sun 03/03/2024

The Woman in the Window review - hitching a ride with Hitch | reviews, news & interviews

The Woman in the Window review - hitching a ride with Hitch

The Woman in the Window review - hitching a ride with Hitch

Joe Wright's derivative thriller squanders its impressive cast

Amy Adams as Anna with Julianne Moore as Jane

Darkest Hour may have been director Joe Wright’s finest hour, but we can say for certain that, despite its impressive cast, The Woman in the Window isn’t.

Concocted from A J Finn’s titular novel with a screenplay by Tracy Letts, it’s a perplexingly derivative thriller which gives leading lady Amy Adams precious little on which to unleash her considerable talents. Predicting the outcome is merely a matter of totting up which scenario scores highest on the PlayItAgainSam-ometer.

Adams plays child psychologist Dr Anna Fox, who’s separated from her husband and child and lives in a cavernous brownstone on New York’s W121st street. We’re gradually supplied with data from which to piece together the trajectory of Anna’s life, which has included a suicide attempt and now regular sessions with a shrink (played by Letts, with a healthy dose of gruffness), who’s trying to regulate her copious supply of drugs. For the time being at least she’s off the booze, but she suffers from agoraphobia, is terrified of leaving her apartment and spends hours huddled up watching vintage movies.A glimpse of James Stewart in Rear Window in the film’s opening moments is an extraordinarily blatant steer about what’s about to follow, which involves Anna spying on her neighbours, whose lives appear in the brightly-lit little boxes of their bedrooms and living rooms opposite her building (viewers may also be reminded of ITV’s recent Viewpoint, another iteration of Hitchcockian voyeurism). Anna’s curiosity about new arrivals the Russells is triggered by a visit from their 15-year-old son Ethan, who brings her a scented candle as a gift from his mum. His evident vulnerability and insecurity pique Anna’s professional curiosity. He scores extra brownie points by befriending Anna’s white Persian cat, Punch.

The one standout scene in the piece is Anna’s encounter with Ethan’s mother Jane (Julianne Moore), who saves Anna from an assault by a group of yobbish trick-or-treaters and joins her for a long evening of talking, drinking (uh-oh) and mutual brain-picking. The way both players carefully keep their cards coyly close to their chests while clearly enjoying each other’s company is great fun, and Moore’s ebullient, in-your-face manner is the perfect tonic for Adams’s tremulous Anna.

However, their friendship is swept aside as Anna’s life spins violently out of control. Peering through her camera’s zoom lens, she’s convinced she has witnessed a brutal murder, and her attempts to probe into the mysterious goings-on in the Russell household are stonewalled by the aggressive and uptight Alistair Walker (Gary Oldman, pictured above with Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Little). Anna finds herself being gaslighted by everybody, including the cops, into thinking she’s losing her mind and hallucinating people and events, including her own personal history. Is Jane Russell in fact “Jane Russell”? Is her amiable basement tenant David (Wyatt Russell) really a psychotic maniac? She’s sucked into a life-threatening downward spiral.

Still, it’s nothing that a ridiculous generic ending can’t fix, complete with a few shameless steals from Psycho. While we naturally deplore spoilers, at least it’s gratifying to report that nobody killed the cat.

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