Netflix recently released “The Woman in the Window,” a psychological thriller that offers a dissolving sense of reality. This slow burn’s constant plot twists will keep you on your toes, never once giving away the ending. This film focuses on a therapist suffering from agoraphobia, Dr. Anna Fox (Amy Adams), who finds joy in some old fashioned “people watching” in her dim Manhattan home. What is at first an innocent coping mechanism, eventually turns Anna’s world upside down. At the start of the film, we can hear Anna having a conversation with her daughter, Olivia (Mariah Bozeman), and her husband, Ed (Anthony Mackie). Anna often brings the two up, stating that they are separated and that her husband cares for their daughter. We can’t see them, we can only hear their voices (this becomes important later).
One day during Anna’s daily window entertainment, she notices new tenants moving in across the street. She later learns that they are the Russells after the son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger), stops over at Anna’s home to deliver a gift from his mother, Jane (Jennifer Jason Leigh). With Anna’s history in adolescent psychology, she opens her arms to Ethan who appears to be kind but timid. After mentioning his father, Alistair (Gary Oldman), Ethan becomes hesitant to disclose any information regarding his “hot-headed” father, which raises red flags for Anna.
As mentioned before, Anna is agoraphobic, meaning she’s confined to the space of her home. The setting of the film takes place in Anna’s home only, but because of the size of the house and what seems like the never-ending rooms, you don’t even notice. Though the film portrays agoraphobia in an accurate manner—such as Anna suffering from panic attacks when she tries to leave her home and endless bottles of medication—my gripe is that it romanticizes the disorder. Anna is fortunate enough to have had a strong career in psychology, which has provided her the means to hide away in her oversized apartment. Anna is often seen partaking in hobbies, such as learning french and drinking the day away while watching old films and chatting online with others alike, which leads viewers to assume she is no longer seeing her patients. Day drinking, learning a new language and no work? I’d take it.
To avoid misrepresentation of people suffering from this damaging mental illness, it could benefit the film to focus more on the negatives of the disorder itself. Considering Anna suffers from trauma induced agoraphobia, the film could have used more aspects of what that entails. This could also help draw the line between those who are currently suffering from “coronavirus agoraphobia,” in which the pandemic has led more people to want to stay home.
Part of Anna’s routine is to watch her neighbors through the window; it’s her thing to know about everybody’s lives without actually speaking to them. This leads Anna to witness a murder of a woman who she believes is Jane Russell. When the real Jane Russell makes an appearance after Anna calls the police, Anna is made out to be crazy by the Russells and detectives on the case. Her mental state is often questioned, as she is a heavy drinker while on antidepressants. This is a sad reality for most people suffering from mental illness. The film is metaphorical in a sense that, though Anna knows she saw Jane being murdered, nobody believes her, which happens daily for those who seek help or have their credibility questioned due to their mental health. What’s more is that we find out the real truth behind the existence of Anna’s husband and daughter, which doesn’t help Anna in the slightest. After the truth comes out, Anna is left to piece this mystery together on her own.
With all this said, this film is without a doubt mind boggling and also captivating. The use of camera angles and cut scenes magnified Anna’s perspective of someone battling trauma induced agoraphobic depression, which makes up for the lack thereof in the storyline. Despite some slight misrepresentation, the film’s use of flashbacks to include backstory, along with an eerie soundtrack and stellar acting from the whole cast has made for a fantastic psychological thriller. Anna, being the main character, is especially passionate in her role, leading viewers to forget that she’s acting altogether; you really become engrossed with her life story. Overall, “The Woman in the Window” is a must watch for those who enjoy the psychological horror that this film provides. You’ll feel like you are trying to put the pieces together alongside Anna. “The Woman in the Window” is based on the original novel written by A.J. Finn, with strong consistencies, but different endings.
“The Woman in the Window” is available on Netflix.
By Mia Godorov