*Warning: major spoilers ahead*
There's a genre that's become grossly overdone in the last few years that I like to call: "Woman Struggling with Substance Abuse Tries to Solve a Murder, But Also Wonders if She Might Be Losing Her Mind." Just think of the 2016 thriller The Girl on the Train or the Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively-starring A Simple Favor.
Well now it seems we've got a brand-new addition to the canon: The Woman in the Window. This psychological thriller from Netflix stars Amy Adams as Anna Fox, a child psychologist who is dealing with a case of agoraphobia after a bad car accident. Because Fox is afraid to leave her home, she picks up a hobby of spying on her neighbors—specifically the family that moved in across the street—which leads to a series of horrifying events.
The window-spying plotline has been used in movies ranging from Hitchcock's Rear Window to the 2007 thriller Disturbia, and while this movie follows closely in its predecessors' footsteps, it doesn't tread much new ground. However, The Woman in the Window did leave me thinking long after I finished it, mainly because it is puzzling for so many reasons.
Keep reading for my brutally honest reaction—and literally all the things I couldn't wrap my head around.
1. Apparently No One in New York City Uses Window Shades... Except Our Protagonist
When our protagonist, Anna Fox (Adams), finds herself trapped at home due to a case of agoraphobia, it's a good thing she's got neighbors who aren't very fond of window shades. In an early moment of the film, Fox is seen staring out her window and the camera pans over her neighbors' townhouses, where families are perfectly framed in their windowpanes like a New Yorker cartoon or a Wes Anderson movie poster.
And sure, I admittedly never bought a pair of curtains when I moved into my first apartment, but it can't be possible that every homeowner in this film is just as lazy as I was in college. Even when Fox is caught spying on her neighbors on multiple occasions, they STILL refuse to buy a pair of curtains.
2. Anna Fox Is Allegedly a Child Psychologist?
We're told that Fox is a child psychologist, but we never see her consult with a client throughout the entire movie. Granted, if she's recovering from a traumatic car accident, then it makes sense that she might be taking some time off.
However, she also just doesn't seem to have that much of a fondness for kids. For example on Halloween night, she decides not to put out a bowl of a candy because she claims the first trick-or-treater will merely steal the whole bowl. Ain't that the spirit!
Better yet, the only kid she befriends is 15-year-old Ethan, the boy across the street whose behavior is quite unsettling (which she, the psychologist, somehow misses). Even worse, the film hints at some highly uncomfortable romantic tension between the two of them.
Maybe there's a good reason she doesn't have any clients.
3. Everything About Her Home Makes Zero Sense
While Fox seemingly never works and she lives alone because she is separated from her husband, we have to wonder how she affords this giant, four-story home in Manhattan, which one character bafflingly refers to as a "shitty home." If this house is a dump, I don't even wanna know how they might refer to my place.
But we do learn that part of Fox's rent is paid for by a tenant, who lives in the basement. And don't even get me started on this basement, which somehow has three different channels of access to Fox's home, but also has its own front door. I almost spent less time paying attention to the plot and more time trying to figure out this basement.
4. What is the Tenant's Problem?
While I'm on the subject of the basement, what was her tenant's problem? The movie was so busy trying to convince us that he might be a killer that his character was an utter disaster.
In one moment he's offering to run errands for Fox and the next he's screaming at her. Meanwhile, he is constantly snooping through her place, but the one time she is caught in the basement, he has the gall to threaten her? When she's his landlord?!
And when he's not busy jumping into random vans or climbing onto the back of motorcycles (which is never explained), we find out at the end that he had some of the answers all along and he just decided to withhold that information from Fox and the police (who have shown up multiple times) for no apparent reason? If there was an award for most irritating character, he would definitely get it.
5. Fox's Therapist is Useless
While Fox spends a big portion of the movie wondering whether she is losing her mind, she gets no help at all from her therapist, Dr. Landy. And we have to wonder where he's been when one of the big twists of the movie is revealed: Fox thinks she's been talking to her husband and daughter on the phone, but they both died in a tragic car accident. Did he know about this??
Meanwhile, Fox is seen struggling with alcohol abuse throughout the film, often passing out in front of the TV with a glass of wine in her hand. So, what does her therapist do? Subscribe her a strong medicine that doesn't mix well with alcohol. I've got to wonder how he has any clients either.
6. Fox Must Have Some Serious Healing Abilities
One of the symptoms of Fox's agoraphobia involves panic attacks and sometimes passing out. However, while the film includes multiple instances of Fox blacking out during attempts to step outside (which at one point almost leads to her getting hit by a car), she never sustains any injuries from these falls.
But that's not all Fox is put through. Throughout the movie she gets cut, stabbed, pushed and almost drowned, but she survives it all. Even in a suspenseful struggle toward the end of the film, she manages to find the strength to battle her aggressor after downing a bunch of crushed pills and enduring some serious wounds. Maybe vitamin D shouldn't be what the doctor orders after all?
7. Where Is the Result of the Murder?
One of the biggest ongoing mysteries of the movie concerns Julianne Moore's character, Katie. When Fox meets Katie, she believes her to be Ethan's mother and when she sees her get murdered (through the window of course, where the killer is conveniently out of frame), she tries to solve the mystery, even though she can't get anyone to believe that it happened.
However, when it is revealed in the end that everything Fox believed to be true actually did happen, and Katie was Ethan's birthmother who abandoned him when he was a child, we are left wondering: where was Ethan's stepmother during all of this? The stepmom doesn't appear until halfway through the film, but it's never explained where she was when Katie came to visit. Did she know about the killing of Katie? Did she also try to conceal it? And if so, does the whole family go to trial because they were culpable in her death?
All remain unanswered.
PureWow Rating: 2 Stars
Unfortunately, The Woman in the Window borrows too much from its predecessors and ends up predictable and confusing all at once. This one's perfect for putting on in the background during a fun drinking night with friends where you won't need to pay full attention.
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