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The Woman in the Window

Year: 2021
Studio: 20th Century Studios
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Tracy Letts
Cast: Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Wyatt Russell, Jennifer Jason Lee, Brian Tyree Henry, Anthony Mackie

Writer Tracy Letts and director Joe Wright's intent was unmistakable – get Netflix to spend what was probably a fairly middling amount on a Hitchcock throwback.

But like a lot of movies that wear such homage on their sleeves, critics weren't impressed. I think it was probably the climatic reveal that put a lot of them off, because until it descended into slight silliness it does a serviceable job of holding your interest as it reveals the secrets behind what's going on.

In classic maybe-I'm-crazy-after-all style, the heroine is Anna (Amy Adams), an agoraphobic who lives in a New York brownstone, talks to her estranged husband (Anthony Mackie) on the phone every day and goes about her shut-in life until she sees a family move in across the road.

Soon after, the effusive, friendly mother of the family, Jane (Julianne Moore), comes over and the two drink wine, laugh and get to know each other. Her late teen son, Ethan, also befriends Anna despite his apparent shyness.

But when Anna sees Jane and her husband Alistair (Gary Oldman) fighting in their bedroom from her window, ending in Alistair apparently stabbing Jane to death with a knife, it sends her down a rabbit hole of paranoia as she takes to spying on them at every opportunity.

The police don't believe a word of her story, and when another woman claiming to be Jane shows up to prove she's okay, Alistair claims Anna is stalking and spying on his family and implores the cops to stop her. The tenant who lives in her basement flat, David (Wyatt Russell) won't be drawn into her drama because he has his own problems. It all leads to Anna feeling like maybe she actually is losing her mind.

But like the box of tea in The Lady Vanishes or any number of other tiny Macguffins from other films that reference this kind of thriller, a photo of Anna's cat starts to reveal the truth – even a truth about Anna's life she herself hasn't been able to face and which led to her agoraphobia.

It's a shame it doesn't lead to something a bit more believable and specific to the rest of the story and doesn't devolve into a generic chase thriller, because everything that's come until that point has been pretty well staged, shot and acted by everyone involved.

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