Review: 'The Woman In The Window' is an enjoyable mess

Amy Adams, Gary Oldman and Julianne Moore star in this psychological thriller on Netflix

Woman in the Window (2021), Amy Adams as Anna Fox. Melinda Sue Gordon / Netflix

Those of you that have been paying attention to the movie adaptation of A.J. Finn's best selling psychological thriller will know that The Woman In The Window's production has been rather chaotic.

Originally scheduled for release in October, 2019, filmmaker Tony Gilroy was brought in to re-write Tracy Letts’ script, while director Joe Wright was also required to conduct re-shoots, all for Disney to eventually just sell the film to Netflix.

It would make sense then if The Woman In The Window was a complete disaster.

It’s not that, as there are various flashes of artistry, tension, and suspense where you see why so many talented people were attracted to the project. At the same time, though, it’s so convoluted that the problems that afflicted its creation stops it from coming anywhere close to reaching its potential.

Considering the cast and the crew involved, the expectations surrounding The Woman In The Window should be much higher. Amy Adams stars as Dr. Anna Fox, an agoraphobic psychologist who becomes friends with her new neighbour, played by Julianne Moore, across the street from her New York City brownstone home. But when she suddenly disappears, Fox becomes the number one suspect and the investigation starts to wreak havoc on her own mental health.

As well as Adams and Moore, The Woman In The Window's cast also includes Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wyatt Russell, and Brian Tyree Henry, who were no doubt attracted to the film because it was directed by Bafta winner Wright and written by Pulitzer Prize recipient Letts.

Wright's ambitious take on The Woman In The Window sees him constantly placing the viewer in Fox's increasingly unstable mindset. Occasionally this is effective, as you get a sense of her fragility and struggles. But there are also sections where you just feel completely lost, which severely impacts your enjoyment.

Woman in the Window (2021), L to R: Brian Tyree Henry as Detective Little, Amy Adams as Anna Fox, Gary Oldman as Alistair Russell, and Jeanine Serralles as Detective Norelli. Melinda Sue Gordon / Netflix

What doesn't help is that The Woman In The Window is all over the place tonally.

One second it’s trying to be light-hearted and witty, only for it to suddenly change course and become melodramatic and silly. Even an actress as talented as Adams is unable to steady the ship. Of course she’s able to provide some moments of pathos and resonance, but there are times when she seems lost and bewildered.

But for all of its faults, you can't help but feel as though The Woman In The Window has found its ideal home on Netflix. Not only should its esteemed cast immediately convince subscribers to give it a chance, but viewers won't be as infuriated by its obvious failings from the comfort of their own sofa as they would be in a cinema.

And while certain elements of its plot are predictable, it keeps its audiences guessing all the way to the end. Even its final set-piece is well-assembled and satisfying.

The Woman In The Window is a mess, but at least it's an enjoyable one.