Perception is key
REVIEWED BY Ashwini Vethakan
A good psychological thriller is always enjoyable especially when its characters have been adapted from a book; the storyline then seems meatier and its characters instantly likeable, right?
Being an avid fan of all things Gillian Flynn – she wrote the New York Times’ (NYT) best-selling thrillers ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Sharp Objects,’ both of which were adapted into movies – I’ve always found myself drawn to storylines with a complex female protagonist.
Which is why I immediately sat down to watch the latest thriller starring Amy Adams, and I must admit to being very excited to see the doe-eyed actor taking on a darker and sombre role.
As for the movie, this is probably the first time a thriller left me quite out of sorts. Titled The Woman in the Window, it revolves around an agoraphobe (Anna) who hasn’t left the house in 10 months. It’s her cocoon, her prison and her soon to be damnation.
Anna’s days bleed into one another as she spends her time popping a cocktail of her medicines while guzzling bottles of wine (which she obviously wasn’t supposed to do). The only form of social life she engages in revolves around the phone conversations she has with her therapist, as well as her husband and daughter who don’t live with her anymore.
Things take an unexpected turn when she watches a new family move into the house across the street. The windows of that house align perfectly with Anna’s – so she can look directly into their dining room, bathrooms and the living room (creepy, right?)
While some might find it disturbing when an adult woman spies on her neighbours through the curtains, Anna would argue that she has a healthy interest in her surrounding world.
Nevertheless, it is an interest that soon becomes an obsession – one which eventually involves a slightly unhinged teenage boy, a missing woman and a murder. As mentioned earlier, a good psychological thriller is enjoyable because the story relies on the viewer’s perception of the storyline.
But in this case, director Joe Wright leaves the door open wide to interpretation of a rather loosely written story. Is Anna really sick? Where is her family? Why does she have an obsession about the young boy next door? Who is really the liar among the characters?
These are some of the questions you might end up asking yourself during the first 40 minutes of the film.
In the end, it’s simply a movie from a much loved genre with some famous names including Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie and many other talented actors. As NYT says in a review however, “the end result is something that intermittently looks and sounds like a good movie without ever actually being one.”
In many ways, The Woman in the Window represents many other failed attempts at the classic genre. One that comes to mind is A Simple Favour, which stars Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. Here too we see the use of a supposed complex female when really, there’s nothing complex about them – they’re simply not written well to begin with.
So the final take on The Woman in the Window is that it has all the workings and hype of being a great story but it just isn’t. It’s a shame to have such talented people suffer through what can only be described as a mediocre script in the hope that the cast will elevate it to a decent movie.