The Woman in the Window: Netflix Film Review

The Woman in the Window

As much as I love Amy Adams, I didn’t have the highest hopes for The Woman in the Window because I was massively underwhelmed by A.J. Finn‘s novel and doubted that the film adaptation could make significant improvements upon the source material. However, I didn’t expect it to be quite so bad.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Adams stars as Anna Fox, an agoraphobic child psychologist who is mentally unstable, an alcoholic and misusing her pills. She lives alone in a huge New York City townhouse and spends her days talking to her estranged husband Ed (Anthony Mackie) and daughter Olivia on the phone, drinking heavily, watching old movies, and spying on her neighbours, especially the Russells, who have just moved in across the street. One night, she witnesses Jane Russell (Julianne Moore) getting stabbed in her home and calls the police. However, when Detective Little (Brian Tyree Henry) comes to investigate, Jane Russell (now Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her husband Alistair (Gary Oldman) present themselves and insist she is mistaken. What is going on?!

The story is basically Rear Window – with the unreliable narrator angle giving off The Girl on the Train vibes – and it’s obvious director Joe Wright was trying to make an Alfred Hitchcock-style classic thriller thanks to some of the weird stylistic flourishes he rips right out of the Hitchcock playbook, but it was never going reach those heights because it remains rather loyal to the source material’s disappointing story.

With the novel, I really enjoyed the mystery of the two Jane Russells, finding out Anna’s backstory and whether what she saw was real, and it was told from Anna’s first-person point of view so you could truly get into her unreliable mindset. I find films struggle to bring that unreliable narrator essence to life because we’re watching from an outsider’s perspective (The Girl on the Train had this issue too). As a result, we judge her more and are more likely to be on the side of the people who don’t believe her, blaming it on the mix of alcohol and pills giving her hallucinations.

Also, in the book, the third act was such a letdown, it ruined what had come before it. Finn failed to stick the landing and make a believable twist and that’s the same here, even though there are some differences. I generally try to avoid spoilers in my reviews but because most of my issue with the film is to do with the twist, I’ve decided to go for spoilers here.

Not enough time was given to Anna’s friendship with the Russells’ son Ethan (Fred Hechinger) throughout the movie to make the revelation that he’s a psycho shocking. There also isn’t enough explanation from Ethan as to why he’s killed multiple people – for example, what did his father’s colleague Pamela do to warrant being murdered?! His motivations made no sense and everything happens too quickly for the information to sink in before it’s all over. Putting Anna’s lodger David (Wyatt Russell) in this final showdown was a good idea as it added more thrill and drama and there’s a new horrifying gory moment that seemed out of place with the rest of the movie but it certainly made me gasp! Also, the “nine months later” epilogue – which is completely different to the book – annoyed me because I refuse to believe that an agoraphobic with as many issues as Anna (whose backstory isn’t explored anywhere near enough here) can become completely fine in that time and be able to go outside and move house with ease.

I have seen some criticism of Adams’ performance but I didn’t have an issue with it, I thought she was fine. My biggest issue was Hechinger as I believe Ethan’s twist could have been handled so much better in a different pair of hands, even if the script was still rather poor, and Oldman, whose performance was so over-the-top and lacked any sense of nuance and subtlety. I appreciate that Alistair is a stressed man pissed off with his snooping interfering neighbour but his acting didn’t need to be so big and loud.

I liked Russell as David and I’m glad the character got a meatier storyline for the movie and Henry as the sensitive and compassionate cop. It’s hard to comment on Moore, Leigh and Mackie because they have such small roles. I know this was a highly-anticipated film adaptation of a best-selling book when they shot in back in 2018 but I’m surprised they signed up for such minor parts – their talents are wasted! Considering the film has been through extensive reshoots and edits, I can’t help but wonder how much footage of them has been left on the cutting room floor.

The Woman in the Window is not the disaster some headlines are declaring it to be. Yes, it is messy, the acting is bad in places, and the third act is an absolute fail, but I still enjoyed watching it.

Streaming on Netflix now

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Godzilla vs. Kong: Film Review

Godzilla vs. Kong

I really didn’t think Godzilla vs. Kong was a film for me – I usually cannot stand watching two big CGI monsters fight each other and that is literally the plot of this movie – but the fight scenes here are a cut above your average and the film as a whole was way more entertaining than I was expecting.

The film, which serves as a sequel to Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Kong: Skull Island, stars Alexander Skarsgard as Nathan, a former Monarch geologist who is tasked with moving Kong from the safety of his giant dome on Skull Island, where he is looked after by Ilene (Rebecca Hall) and her deaf adopted daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle), into the Hollow Earth, the true home of the titans, to retrieve an energy source to supposedly stop Godzilla’s unprovoked rampages. As we already know from the franchise, there can’t be two alpha titans so Godzilla soon comes for his enemy Kong.

From reading this summary, you can probably tell that the plot is threadbare, contrived, and doesn’t make a ton of sense, but considering this is a film about a face-off between two massive monsters, you shouldn’t go in expecting a solid screenplay, well-rounded characters, or any sort of depth. This is a Blockbuster with a capital B; it’s all about the action and the spectacle so don’t expect anything else. It is silly, but it knows it is, and it’s a lot of mindless fun.

I usually tune out during action sequences after a while because I find them boring but these ones really captured my attention. None of Godzilla and Kong’s fights outstayed their welcome and they looked so cool to watch, from the fight choreography, the way they were shot, the slo-mo punches and jumps, and the setting. I particularly loved the Hong Kong battleground, with them being lit up by the colourful skyscrapers and just destroying the city entirely. The stakes aren’t super high because you know Warner Bros. would never kill such a profitable property off but it’s still great fun to watch.

Given the title, you might expect this film to be evenly split between the two titans but this is very much Kong’s movie, with appearances from Godzilla. I’m usually a big fan of Godzilla but I really was on team Kong this team around. He has just been so well designed that he has such an expressive face and I couldn’t help but feel sad when he did. I also loved his bond with Jia and their ability to communicate.

I’m surprised so many big names signed up to this considering how dull and paper thin the characters are. Hall and Hottle have a bit more substance thanks to their relationship with Kong, but Skarsgard, Demian Bichir as the CEO of Apex Cybernetics and Eiza Gonzalez as his daughter get so little to do and the human scenes are so flat in comparison to the rest. Normally I switch off in action scenes, but I switched off during those here. Brian Tyree Henry and Julian Dennison – who team up with Millie Bobby Brown to investigate what Apex is up to – were the only ones who tried to inject personality and humour into their characters and were mildly successful.

Godzilla vs. Kong, directed by Adam Wingard, is much better than I ever expected it would be. If you just embrace the silly spectacle, you will have a great time. See it on a big screen if you can because it looks amazing.

Available for premium rental at home now

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Joker: Venice Film Review

Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

Woah, I thought I was prepared for Joker, but it turns out I wasn’t. Because the iconic Batman villain has been seen on screen many times before, you think you know what his origins film will be like but you don’t. Joker will shock and surprise you A LOT.

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If Beale Street Could Talk: Film Review

So many film critics have raved about If Beale Street Could Talk and complained about its lack of love this awards season, so I went into Barry Jenkins‘ latest project with the highest expectations and I feel bad admitting that I came away deflated.

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Widows: Film Review

I’m a big fan of Steve McQueen‘s previous films – like Hunger, Shame and 12 Years A Slave – so I was excited to see him take on more mainstream, blockbuster fare, and the incredible cast he recruited for Widows was another big plus. Thankfully, Widows is just what I hoped it would be – a thrilling heist drama.

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