Hitchcock’s formula was perfect. The impotence of a man dedicated to the world of photography, curious and adventurous by nature, with the enormous feat of capturing the right moments, in a wheelchair and with one leg in a cast, who overnight witnesses a murder right in the building across the street. Killing boredom has never been more revealing. And why this filmmaker was the master of suspense has never been clearer.
Rear Window (1954) is a trustworthy portrait of human nature at its best, but not only of those who look, but also of those who are silent. A film that tells us about what is hidden between other people’s walls and silently awaits never to be found, because secrets can sometimes remain hidden until someone is able to see through the appropriate window.
Being so powerful and effective due to its simplicity, it has managed to remain among the collective imagination because it is perhaps an interesting revelation at narrative levels. The intense reality of the curious man, the voyeuristic man who observes and discovers, with overflowing pleasure, everything that perhaps should not be observed, everything that perhaps should not be discovered … is, in fact, a timeless reality.
A reality that can work just as well in a movie from the 50s, as it can do it without problem in a movie of the 21st century. And as a fundamental piece of both the genre of thriller, like universal cinema, it has now become one of the most imitated and even parodied films throughout history.
The hypertextual joke of that episode of The Simpsons where Bart, in a wheelchair and with one leg in a cast, spies on his neighbors’ house to realize —although in the wrong way— how Ned Flanders murders his own wife is not gratuitous. But let’s go beyond the jokes and pop culture.
The Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo gave us in 2014 one of the most interesting reinterpretations of that Rear Window (1954) with his film Open Windows. This time, bringing Hitchcock’s powerful concept of “the window” —the one that serves as a sort of gateway to man’s most gruesome secrets— to the digitized and postmodern 21st century with, literally, the pop-up windows of our computers.
Vigalondo’s idea was to make of our technological reality a new version of what waits in silence not to be found, but with black screens —or the “black mirrors”- that surround us at every moment.
And give us, in fact, a kind of techno thriller pretty cool about how a poor programming geek devil — played by Elijah Wood — falls into the hands of a sadistic terrorist who threatens him to commit a crime, via a real-time broadcast, if he doesn’t obey “the rules” of their own game.
However, Vigalondo seems not to be the only one who is attracted to the idea of transferring that concept “of looking at what should not be looked at” into the 21st century and now we are getting a film from none other than the Netflix platform in charge of paying tribute to the Hitchcock’s own legacy.
Directed by none other than the British Joe Wright, director of great classics and masterpieces of the seventh art such as his adaptation of Pride & Prejudice (2005) with Keira Knightley and even that fascinating Dark Hours (2017) on the life of Churchill, The Woman in the Window It is something like his foray into the tricky genre of thriller psychological.
And although much has been said about it, among good-natured critics who do not stop recommending it or even, reaching the deceptive trends of Netflix as one of the most viewed movies in recent weeks, I have to tell you that I would even put it in my fabulous article on “thrillers patateros ”from this filthy platform, because… damn it, how agonizing it is.
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Let’s agree that he was not waiting for the masterpiece of the psychological thrillers or the new master of suspense far from it, but coming from someone like Joe Wright it is quite clear that this film is devious and even disappointing.
Anyone can fall into the clutches of The Woman in the Window. The plot is familiar and maliciously interesting.
A film about a child psychologist who suffers from agoraphobia – played by none other than Amy Adams – and who in the middle of her treatment witnesses a crime right in the building opposite. Oh my God! It’s like a declaration of love to Hitchcock or something. The problem, ironically, is that it doesn’t go beyond that.
If you ask me, Joe Wright did not want to make a film as a tribute but rather a kind of remake covert. And that, dear padawans, is the serious error of this proposal.
The synopsis takes us back to Rear Window almost out of obligation. The plot, although at some point it escapes to other areas, it begins and ends as Rear Window out of mere self-satisfaction. And if that wasn’t enough, the whole damn movie is full of references with scenes literally taken from Rear Window and other Hitchcock movies. Does anybody want to tell me what the damn movie it’s inspired by The Woman in the WIndow? Heavens Watson, I don’t even know!
Although the introduction feels very fluid at the beginning and even poses a whole psychological game on this poor woman who cannot leave the house but who must do so to face the problems. And he even invites you to doubt his mental capacity by showing you elements that do not fit with the first version we saw – very similar even to Brad Anderson’s type of cinema – I have to tell you that everything works in a forced way.
There is not enough intrigue that pushes us to bet everything on an official version. There is not enough suspense that leads us to believe that the logical explanations of this movie will be important. And even worse … there is nothing interesting enough to “discover the murderer” because the murderer is, in fact, irrelevant.
The Woman in the Window it’s gimmicky and decaffeinated because it wants to convince you first that its inspiration comes from Hitchcock rather than emulating the latter’s greatness. And while there are twists and turns that may work out at some point, the film as a whole falls apart when it shows you that it lacks a personality of its own.
Here it does not really matter the intrigue of a crime seen by a character who cannot do much from his window. What matters here is to confuse the viewer and make him doubt the perception of his protagonist. And that perception, in addition to not being justified, when the time comes, is not so shocking as to be recorded in history.
As if the final reveal in The Sixth Sense (1999) not that Bruce Willis has been dead from the beginning, but that everything was a dream.
Damn it, the Joe Wright movie in addition to appearing to be unclear on what to do with its outcome, it also hasn’t bothered to make it round enough.
And the actions, although correct, the truth is that they have not been used enough. Although Amy Adams is as splendid as ever and manages to convey that pain, that feeling, that horrible emptiness that little by little we will know where it came from … something in her character lacks enough development to end up empathizing with him.
Meanwhile, Gary Oldman, who delivers a superb performance by far and you even think he’s hiding something gruesome, there’s nothing iconic enough to say: damn, that’s the guy who played Coppola’s fascinating Dracula! What will we say after seeing this movie? “Damn it is the same subject of The Woman in the Window that he slapped a child and surely that is why we must believe that he is the bad guy? ”
I don’t know dear padawans, I am too surprised. Here the feats are told with the palm of one hand: photography, the superb use of colors and even some shocking surreal scenes that give a greater depth of fear, paranoia or mental instability derived as a tribute, of course, to Hitchcock movies like Vertigo (1958) the Rope (1948).
It elevates that visual quality that aims to graphically emulate the intricacies of the plot and the characters to make it visually majestic. Although if there is not a perfect balance between the two – argument and technique – the only thing that remains is a beautiful gift box that is worth and that surprises much more than what comes inside.
The Woman in the Window I am afraid to admit, it is only valid for what is repeated that it is. But it fails to convince you that it really is. Unfortunately for Joe Wright fans, a thriller hitchcockiano… very, but sooo at half gas.
“Dr. Anna Fox spends her days locked up in her New York home, drinking wine while watching old movies and spying on her neighbors. One day, as he looks out the window, he sees something that happens in front of his house, in the Russell home, a family that the whole neighborhood considers exemplary. “
*Portal photo: Netflix