Time has passed, and you could have been forgiven for thinking it would have never made it to the big screen at long last. The Woman In The Window was the bestselling book that gripped us all a few years ago – and the story of how the story became to be written is somewhat stranger than you would ever think.
The pandemic has had a grave impact on the Arts – and the film industry has taken a huge impact. The Woman In The Window finally made it to Netflix, having previously been scheduled to be released to the big screen. But is it worth the hype?
The trailer gives away a massive spoiler – that leads right to the mainshock twist
“I’m Jane Russel”, like the title suggests, this quite literally centers around the woman in the window – but the edit of the initial trailer is clumsy. It gives away a huge spoiler. Many people watching will have seen this – and, thanks to this, so much of the screen time is in fact wasted.
The unreliable narrator is just a narrator – and it makes for painful watching
Dr Anna Fox is an unreliable narrator, which is what initially made the book so engaging and engrossing; you had no idea what was going to happen next, and you also simultaneously experience the gas-lighting that she also does. The book is very compelling for this reason – and it will keep you guessing right until the very end. The unreliable narrator means that the plot is skillfully relayed bit by bit.
Dr Fox is only semi-reliable in this film adaptation – but the adaptation is very linear, with only a few flashes back and forth. The film relies on a lot of special effects and editing – but is strange from the very beginning. We are initially told that Dr Fox is separated from her daughter and husband, who live elsewhere outside of the home – and spends an inordinate amount of time talking on the phone. However, we don’t really see her talking on the phone – there’s just many shots of her, complete with a Voice Over. The home looks cold, uninviting, and downright horrible.
The truth is that her husband and child are in fact dead, due to an accident caused by bad weather in a car meaning there was a crash. But ‘something being off’ is kind of really obvious from the very beginning.
…. And the motive is, well, lacking
The Woman In The Window critically and concisely takes us inside the mind of a killer, as well as looking into the psychology of this, too. (Dr Anna Fox is, in fact, a psychologist.) The book builds the suspense to this, as well as leaving very subtle clues throughout. The book gives us a satisfying motive, means and opportunity – and the story arc is wrapped up nicely, too, which is rare. Compare this to the film, and the eventual killer is just sadistic, and also potentially, possibly, a psychopath. There is no real story arc – just a quickly dashed add up of the plot. All the reasons why are clumsily lumped in, right at the end. There is such a lack of nuance, and the motive is rather, well, lacking.
If you want to bring a true mystery thriller whodunnit to the screen, it needs to have a nuanced performance at the very least. The Girl On The Train suffered somewhat for similar reasons, as well as for the creative changes – but was also a monster of a bestselling book. You don’t need a lot of screen time to make a good film – but at least give more context, rather than spending excessive amounts of time on irrelevant plot details. Fleshing out the murder motive and the contextual background subtly throughout would have mightily improved the film adaptation.
A cameo by the author would have been worth it
Sometimes the events of real-life can be strange – and, as the saying goes, truth is (sometimes) stranger than fiction. The background of the author is an amazing story, as told through this profile – and a cameo could have been ironic, too. The New Yorker is a great publication.
And what about the cast?
For this very website, I wrote about what I hoped to see in The Woman In The Window – especially because I am an ardent fan of the book, too. But the thing about this is that the cast some what let the production of the film down, too. The names attached are not necessarily big enough to entirely pull off such a film – and could have benefit from a huge household name, such as someone like Julie Andrews. There are actors who are also often associated with other Netflix titles – but the mismatched connection of the assembled cast doesn’t really allow for a lot of chemistry.
The villain was also not exactly well-executed – and plays into so many stereotypes, including potentially being a psychopath, someone ostracized by the education system. They are not at all memorable, as well as being almost instantly forgettable.
To sign the film off officially, there is one big, final confrontation scene. The murderer goes to confront Dr Anna Fox, leading to quite a violent and graphic scene. It includes knives and Dr Fox being stabbed in the face with what looks like some kind of trident device for a garden. But even that is anti climatic, and just needlessly violent and graphic for no real purpose. It is needlessly grotesques.
Adapting a hit best selling book to the big screen is no easy feet – and the box office has been somewhat decimated by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Woman In The Window had such huge potential, owing to the success of the book – but was perhaps a victim of having to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. Netflix just got in there first.
The Woman In The Window is out now on Netflix. You can also read the book via most good bookshops, too.
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