Film Review: 'The Woman in the Window' Offers a Muddled Yet Entertaining View

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CHICAGO – People in waste management have a mantra that seems to have been awkwardly adopted by the film industry: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In the film industry’s case, ‘reduce’ doesn’t mean to create less waste, but to reduce the amount of money spent taking a chance on original content.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

‘Reuse’ takes a more literal form when studios decide to create films on already worn-out premises with overused approaches. ‘Recycle’ is one we’ve all grown more and more familiar with as studios remake some of our favorite films, and barring their complete success, later try to reboot the same film and hope that this time it sticks. The Woman in the Window is the perfect example of this trend by utilizing every part in some form, but while the outcome may be trashy, it never becomes a pure waste.

The long lineage of this film based on a novel that is heavily influenced by a specific film and genre, which has already had multiple films based on the premise, feels exhausting when you trace it back. Luckily, you won’t have to spend too much time sleuthing because The Woman in the Window wears its influences on its sleeve. Much like that one guy who won’t stop talking about his favorite mainstream band to the point where it becomes part of his identity, this film’s greatest crime is relying on the greater elements of its predecessors to make itself seem more interesting than it actually is. Throw in a little Rear Window with a heavy helping of Hitchcockian auteurism, and top it off with all of the worst, exaggerated elements from the noir genre and you find yourself with an approximation of what was attempted here. Director Joe Wright may have been the wrong choice for this kind of material, but what he does with it, while wildly flawed, is inescapably and beautifully his own.

Wright has been at the head of such great and devastating dramas as Atonement and Darkest Hour, but when he applies that similar brush to The Woman in the Window all you can see on the canvas are the pale outlines of the artists that came before. Homage is one of the sincerest forms of flattery, but Wright adorns this film with such big and heavy-handed references that it doesn’t end up resembling a film as much as it does a drag queen with chunky Hitchcock-inspired costume jewelry who calls herself Queer Wind-hoe. This might come off as me throwing shade, and yes that might be a small part of it, but this exact aspect made the film casually enjoyable to me. Like most drag shows, I LIVE for the camp and the drama, both of which are available in abundance.

“The Woman in the Window” available on Netflix, May 14th. Featuring Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Fred Hechinger, Gary Oldman, Brian Tyree Henry, Wyatt Russell, Anthony Mackie, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Directed by Joe Wright. Written by Tracy Letts. Rated “R”

StarClick here for Jon Espino’s full review of “The Woman in the Window”

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Photo credit: Netflix

StarClick here for Jon Espino’s full review of “The Woman in the Window”

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