THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW – Review by Susan Granger

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Occasionally, there’s a book-to-film adaptation that is an utter disaster. Netflix’ The Woman in the Window is one.

Based on A.J. Finn’s 2018 best-seller, it’s set on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the huge home of Anna Fox (Amy Adams), a child psychologist who became agoraphobic after a traumatic accident.

Since she’s terrified go outside, Anna spends hours popping pills, sipping red wine and looking out of the windows when she’s not whining to her therapist (screenwriter Tracy Letts) and confronting her basement tenant, David (Wyatt Russell, Kurt’s son).

Shortly after new neighbors move in across the street, Anna thinks she sees a murder being committed there and calls 9-1-1.

When confronted by an NYPD detective (Brian Tyree Henry), the husband, Alistair Russell (Gary Oldman), denies there’s a problem. But when his troubled teenage son Ethan (Fred Hechinger) visits, Anna’s convinced he’s an abused child.

Then, an edgy woman (Julianne Moore) appears, claiming to be Ethan’s mother. Anna identifies her as the well-known artist ‘Jane Russell,’ as they genially gab and drink.

Soon after, Anna hears a scream and thinks she sees Jane being murdered. When the police arrive again, angry Alistair strongly protests, introducing his wife Jane (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who’s obviously alive. Which leaves us to wonder: Is Anna hallucinating?

So what went so disastrously wrong with this psychological thriller?

First, Dan Mallory – a.k.a. novelist A.J. Finn – was accused of various deceptions, including plagiarism; it’s obvious he was strongly influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954). Then British director Joe Wright was blamed when disappointing test screenings revealed that audiences were totally confused; rewrites and reshoots were necessary.

Having read the novel, I knew the plot but, on-screen, it’s totally convoluted, amplified by Amy Adams’ intense performance.

FYI: Anna watches clips from Laura (1944), Spellbound (1945) and Dark Passage (1947). Plus, it’s reminiscent of “Witness to Murder” (1954), when Barbara Stanwyck played a woman whose sanity is questioned after she sees a man murder a call girl.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The Woman in the Window is a thudding 3. Even Windex couldn’t clarify it.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.