Joe Wright’s latest experience is a terrifying and entertaining psychological film that brings to life the atmosphere of classic noir films through its fiery script. The Woman in the Window has a dark and pessimistic atmosphere, and in the context of an Agatha Christie-like riddle, it unfolds a surprising and twisted story. The main skeleton of the plot in this film is very similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s “rear window”, which is why Joe Wright refers to Master’s film from the very beginning. Joe Wright’s main challenge in The Woman in the Window was how, despite the similarity of the plot, he could get out from under the shadow of Hitchcock’s big name and have something to say. Here is a review of the story along with some feedback to help you make your decision whether to watch or not to watch the movie.
The point of view in The Woman in the Window is in the first person, and Anna, the main character of the film, suffers from agoraphobia (fear of an open and crowded environment) and has to do all her work at home. Accordingly, all the events of the film take place in one location, namely Anna’s house. Films that have a limited location and are dramatically dependent on location and atmosphere should definitely highlight and characterize the location through introductory shots and visual emphasis on the environment. In The Woman in the Window, the filmmaker first shows some soft trawling views from different angles of the house, and in a Dutch view (sloping) reflects the staircase and the dome-like window of the roof. The serenity in this sequence is a fire under the ashes, and the oblique nature of the frame in the stairwell conveys a sense of imbalance and confusion, which of course is a kind of mirror of the shocking ending of the film. We see this emphasis on location in various scenes of the film. For example, there are overhead views of the dome-like window in several other places in the film, in which Joe Wright emphasizes the height of the building and paves the way to the horrific ending of the film.
In “Rear Window,” Hitchcock creates the neighborhood with plenty of footage at the beginning of the film, although his style is different from Joe Wright’s. First of all, the tone of Hitchcock’s film is cheerful and witty, which is why the light, music and mezzanine in Hitchcock’s scenes, unlike Joe Wright, are energetic. In addition, Hitchcock’s “rear window” emphasis is on neighborhood location, giving us more exterior views, while Joe Wright takes his camera out of the house less to feel the confinement and suffocation of Anna’s agoraphobia in a dark, stagnant atmosphere. The most important formal points in the artistic independence of this film are these two things that are reflected throughout the film.
The Woman in the Window is cohesive enough and never loses its rhythm. However, perhaps if Joe Wright had a little smoother and faster introduction of the film in the first scene, the overall appeal of the film would have been greater. For example, the character of the psychologist who helps Anna has practically no special effect on the story, and Anna’s imaginary husband’s pessimism towards the psychologist is completely superfluous. The author could transfer the entire role of the psychologist to Anna’s imaginary husband or her tenant and accelerate the process of the first act.
Interestingly, when Anna decides to commit suicide, we have a scene of a conversation with a psychologist in which Anna does not explain to the psychologist about her own decision. That is, the only part of the film where the presence of a psychologist could have a place is practically wasted.
The best news about The Woman in the Window is the use of “unreliable narrator”. Due to hallucinogenic drugs and frequent drinking, Anna has nightmares and hallucinations in different parts of the film, and this makes both the audience and Anna herself not 100% confident about what she sees. Of course, the filmmaker was careful not to let Anna’s delusions and nightmares get out of control. That is, Joe Wright is careful that truth and illusion are inseparable, and that the audience does not lose all confidence in the narrator. The coordinates that the film gives us about Anna are such that we consider only a little uncertainty in Anna’s observations, and this contributes to the surprise and charm of the film. In this respect, “Woman Behind the Window” can be compared to the successful films “Boxing Club”, “Shutter Island” and the game “Max Payne 2”, which are very similar in style and even having shocking twists. The unreliable narrator is a common and attractive method in noir cinema, which is well used in this film as well.
Most of the characters in The Woman in the Window are brilliant, but there is a big bug in Ethan’s characterization, which is the biggest weakness of the film. Aside from the fact that the film failed to provide a clear identity of Ethan, it also leaves his motive for deception and murder in a state of ambiguity. Ethan first looks like an oppressed and kind teenager. For example, in the scene where he sees his father through the window of Anna’s house and hates him, or when his father shouts at him while eating dinner, or where his father slaps him hard on the face, in all these cases, We see the image of a weak teenager who is oppressed and loses his self-confidence and pride. How can we believe that Ethan is such a monster that violently killed three people, one of whom is his own mother ?! More importantly, Ethan’s explanation of why his mother was killed is mentioned in some vague dialogue that is by no means plausible. Even more obscure is the murder of Pam, his father’s assistant at the company, about whom the film offers no explanation. Another ambiguous thing done by Ethan, but nowhere in the film is why it is not clear, is an anonymous email sent to Anna. An email that causes Anna to call the police again, this time believing that Jane Russell is alive and that she is delusional. What motivated Ethan to send this email to Anna, and how did he calculate the consequences? We do not know.
What adds to The Woman in the Window is the brilliant performance of the actors. Amy Adams has proven herself to be a brand for almost ten years as a wounded and depressed woman. Of course, she has played a wide variety of roles with complete success, and it is not just that she fits into the role of such a character. Amy Adams’s cold and innocent look along with her noble face has repeatedly nominated her for an Oscar, and in The Woman in the Window, her acting is at the same level. Despite their relatively short appearances in the film, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman also perform so well that they take the stage in the situations they play against Amy Adams, overshadowing Adams’ elegant play. Even the performance of the novice actor who played Ethan is far ahead of Ethan’s characterization in the script.
In general, The Woman in the Window has a script with a minimum of acceptable marks, which was compensated in the production process by Joe Wright, and brought about a lively and strong film. A film that, because of the miracle of creating a space with memorable music, brilliant filming, and masterful games, reminds us that it has a plot similar to the “rear window”.