Netflix’s long-delayed thriller The Woman in the Window premiered back in May, and it now seems safe to say that the reviews are generally negative. The Woman in the Window stars Amy Adams as an agoraphobic woman who spies on her neighbors, but gets more than she bargained for when she witnesses a violent crime. Critics and casual viewers alike are unimpressed and, in some cases, even offended.
The Woman in the Window has been delayed twice, first when early test screenings went poorly according to a report by Indie Wire. After missing its October 2019 release date, the movie then faced the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused further delays as with so many other big releases. It missed its May 2020 release date, and at that point, 20th Century Fox Studios sold the rights to the movie to Netflix. All that waiting may have made it sting even worse when the movie finally came out to lackluster reviews in May of 2021.
The movie is based on a novel by the same name written by author A.J. Finn. The novel was published in 2018 and received reasonably positive reviews, which makes the criticism of the writing in the movie adaptation that much more surprising. It’s hard to tell which critics are disappointed in the story overall and which are comparing the movie to its source material.
Either way, the majority of viewers seemed let down. The Woman in the Window has a 26 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 36 percent score among the general audience. Here’s a look at why critics say they disliked the movie so much.
Critic S.E. Smith wrote a review for BitchMedia.org which argues that the central problem with The Woman in the Window is its perspective on women with disabilities. Smith feels that the movie missed its intended mark by misrepresenting agoraphobia — and perhaps displaying a general lack of interest in really understanding that condition beyond the stereotypes it conjures in the average person’s mind.
However, Smith blames these fundamental missteps on Finn, not screenwriter Tracy Letts. Smith’s review included a link to a New Yorker story on many scams and grifts Finn has allegedly run on people.
Pick a Lane
In a segment on NPR Los Angeles, critic Claudia Puig blamed the movie’s poor score on director Joe Wright. She argued that Wright’s directing left the movie directionless, saying that he “can’t seem to choose between making this a melodramatic, campy movie, or a taught thriller.”
Matt Neal of ABC Radio Australia complained that The Woman in the Window provides “twists and turns aplenty,” but they all lead to nothing, making the movie feel pointless. He wrote: “Some satisfy, many don’t — but as they pile up, the film gets less and less convincing.”
What praise there was for this movie was for the cast, yet even there critics like Angie Han of Mashable felt like the movie was doing a disservice to its A-list stars. Han wrote: “Even Adams can’t make Anna much more than a faint copy of her other, better performances in works like Arrival and Sharp Objects.”
Book & Film Globe‘s Sara Stewart approached The Woman in the Window with a sense of humor, treating its low quality as inevitable. Like Smith, Stewart referred to the scandalous real-life stories about Finn to come out in the last couple of years, noting that this adaptation began before those tales went public. Stewart asks readers: “Aren’t you kind of curious to see how lousy it is?”
With 3.5 out of 5 stars, The Australian‘s Stephen Romei gave The Woman in the Window the closest thing it got to a good review. Romei praised the cast’s performances in spite of the choppy narrative, writing: “It is six-time Oscar nominee Adams, towards the end, who makes it something special.”
Intention vs. Execution
Finally, Vox‘s Alissa Wilkinson wrote that she was so confused by parts of the movie she wondered how the cast and members of the creative team even justified it to themselves at the time. She wrote: “Watching it, you have to wonder exactly what kind of a movie anyone thought they were making.” The Woman in the Window is streaming now on Netflix.