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'The Woman in the Window' review: A-list talent in Z-list movie

Amy Adams as Anna Fox in "The Woman

Amy Adams as Anna Fox in "The Woman in the Window." Credit: Netflix/Melinda Sue Gordon

MOVIE "The Woman in the Window"

WHERE Streaming on Netflix

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Amy Adams stars in "The Woman in the Window" as Anna Fox, an agoraphobic psychologist who never leaves her rustic Manhattan brownstone and therefore has ample time to become swept up in the lives of her new neighbors across the street.

You can't blame her, because the Russell family comes across as rather unsettling.

They vociferously argue through conveniently open windows. Dad Alistair (Gary Oldman) has a shady past and a menacing demeanor; son Ethan (Fred Hechinger) visits Anna multiple times and seems to be stricken with terror. Mom Jane (Julianne Moore) pops over one evening for a mysterious conversation.

Shortly thereafter, during her usual round of spying, Anna sees what appears to be Jane's murder. When a new Jane pops up, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, things seem to be really off.

This Netflix movie, delayed since 2019, is directed by Joe Wright ("Atonement"), written by and co-starring the great Tracy Letts ("August: Osage County") and adapted from the 2018 novel by A.J. Finn.

MY SAY There are far too many talented people involved in this movie for it to play as poorly as it does. This is hardly the first time A-list talent on both sides of the camera have conspired to make a total flop, a movie that offers nothing in the way of compelling drama or interesting characters. But it never ceases to amaze when something goes this wrong.

Wright is an excellent director cast adrift here, trying to overcompensate for the deficient screenplay with a multitude of canted angles and other quasi-surrealistic images to capture the protagonist's frame of mind, such as depicting her against oversized flickering screens.

All the stylistic distractions in the world cannot alleviate a plot that lurches in predictable directions and relies on characters to behave utterly inexplicably (if you're going to murder someone, close the blinds!).

Letts has won a Pulitzer and a Tony, but seems to have had little idea for how to elevate the material beyond a third-rate "Rear Window" knockoff.

Adams is one of our finest actors, but she fails to give Anna any sense of a rich inner life. The rest of the cast, including everyone from Moore (who has the good fortune of only showing up in one scene, save for a few other shots) to Oldman and Anthony Mackie, seem flabbergasted with their half-drawn characters.

Alfred Hitchcock's classic serves as the pervasive influence on "The Woman in the Window." There's barely an attempt to differentiate this movie from the basic "Rear Window" template.

And it suffers from many of the same problems encountered by Hitchcock imitators of the past. The style might be there in the most basic sense, but it's utterly bereft of the suspense underpinned by a probing understanding of human psychology, or even a basic knowledge of the way people live their lives and interact with the spaces they inhabit.

BOTTOM LINE This is a terrible movie made by a lot of very talented people.

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