I’m providing you a warning, this was not worth it.
Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is a therapist with agoraphobia who has recently separated from her husband Edward (Anthony Mackie). Anna suffers from agoraphobia, a fear of going outside. She spies on her neighbors, the Russells, and drinks while taking a number of pills. Jane Russell, the matriarch of the family (Julianne Moore), comes over to visit and the two become friendly. Anna also meets her son, Ethan (Fred Hechinger), who implies that his father Alistair (Gary Oldman) is abusive. One night, Anna witnesses someone murdering Jane. She calls the police, only for them to find out that there is a woman named Jane Russell, but she’s now played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Anna’s downstairs tenant, David (Wyatt Russell), claims he didn’t hear anything. The question becomes whether Alistair is a murderer or if Anna is going insane.
I’m not spoiling this ending only on the off chance that you still want to watch the film, but I’m telling you right now that this film was such a disappointment that I moved it up in the order so that I could make sure I told people to avoid it. This was not just a poor remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, it’s inferior to the Shia LaBeouf-led remake Disturbia. The thing is that this film is trying to do too many cliches and too many references and too many pastiches at once. It aspires to be an homage to Hitchcock, but it somehow doesn’t understand what was good about Rear Window or most of Hitchcock. It doesn’t have the mastery of film technique and atmosphere that make for good suspense, instead trying to borrow credibility from those who did.
The film fails to ever really come to life. It’s not suspenseful, it’s not exciting, it’s just slow. I was surprised that the running time was only 100 minutes, because I’d have pegged this film at 150 if you’d asked me during the viewing. It’s mostly made worse by the fact that the nothing you’re seeing onscreen never feels like it’s building, instead it just feels like it’s constantly trying to throw in another interesting idea that it will never follow through on.
This is not to say that the performers in the movie aren’t good. Amy Adams does a great job making herself ambiguously crazy and Gary Oldman similarly makes himself into a figure that could either be a murderer or a man getting upset at having a crazy woman spying on his family. Unfortunately, this is also part of the problem. Most of the characters are depicted as being extremely vague in whether they’re sinister or just misunderstood and the result is that it’s difficult to ever know what these people are actually like.
Overall, it’s just a waste of talent and money. I think the fact that they tried to advertise it with an “anatomy of a scene” breakdown tells you just how desperate they were to try and convince people this film was artful rather than awful. But, if people are looking at a painting and feel nothing, explaining what you were trying to do won’t make them feel more.
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