On paper it seemed like a slam dunk. A best-selling book. An A-list director (Joe Wright) with visual panache. An A-list cast headed up by Amy Adams in the titular role of an agoraphobic who thinks they witness a murder across the street.
I bet as the dailies came in, a lot of it looked great, too. Cool, moody cinematography. Playful homages to Hitchcock involving actual scenes from the films. Oh, and that Amy Adams “I know what you’re thinking…” monologue…the camera pulling in on her moving back. It appears two thirds of the way through the film and reveals the first of two shocking twists, and it’s a mini-masterwork of direction and acting.
But wow, when finally stitched together, it just doesn’t work as a coherent film or story. It’s as if no one could agree on whether they were making a campy, over-the-top, theatrically played Hitchcock homage or a taut, gritty psychological thriller. The film swings wildly back and forth in tone from scene to scene, sometimes within the same scene, and the result is a mess. The broad over-the-top stuff plays best because the cast involved knows how to make that kind of material work, but it becomes one of those films where no one behaves like an actual human being. And they want you so desperately to feel for the characters…or for Amy Adams at least, but they make it impossible.
I had not read the book, so I didn’t know the twists that were coming, and on some level that (and Amy Adams performance) made The Woman in the Window enjoyable. It’s just that the levels it strived for could have been…should have been….so much higher.