If you’re looking for a beautiful looking film with great performances and a pulpy crime story, this is a great choice even if it is a little over-baked.
There’s no getting around it, the film is essentially a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, Rear Window from 1954. The story follows Amy Adams as a woman with agoraphobia who becomes obsessed with her new neighbors across the street. She meets their son, who seems to need her help. She begins watching them through their big open windows and believes he witnesses the murder of his mother. But due to the medications she’s on to help with her phobia she may not have seen what she thinks she saw. She is mentally unstable and unable to leave her house even as evil closes in on her.
Amy Adams is fantastic. She gives a wonderful and full performance. It’s a role that asks a lot of her emotionally. She runs the gauntlet of highs and lows here. From dealing with a frustrating psychologist, to the terror of what she may have seen, to the desperation to be believed, she is giving it her all here. It’s also a role that demands a lack of vanity. She looks rather unattractive in many scenes as a woman drinking wine on her couch wearing a ratty robe and pajamas. She goes all in on this aspect of the role and never once lets her movie star quality betray the authenticity of the role.
The film is directed by Joe Wright, a British director most well known for the exquisitely shot Pride and Prejudice from 2005, and most recently for the WWII drama Darkest Hour. He is a master at crafting beautiful images. Here he fills the frame with a stunning use of color and shadow to isolate Amy Adams’ character. She lives in a vast empty house and the darkness that surrounds her is stunningly moody. The splashes of color he employs really go a long way to convey meaning and imply a lot of subtext about the characters that come in and out of the house. Play attention to his use of reds.
For me the story is fun until the ending. It gets a little too twisty for its own good. It tells a compelling psychological story about a damaged woman, then it jumps into pulp territory a little too far. I don’t buy the final reveal. That’s my real problem. There are a couple of twists in the movie, and a couple of them really don’t work for me. I don’t believe them, and it causes the movie to suffer. There are some choices made that diminish the work as a whole for me. I don’t want to give anything away. I just wasn’t able to go all the way with the movie. It bent the narrative reality of the film too far and broke for me.
That said, I think there’s a lot to recommend here, and there’s so much worthwhile in this movie. I can still recommend it. Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I think it’s a flawed but fun movie experience. It’s streaming on Netflix and it’s worth checking out.
It’s my cup of tea. B