And there was such promise, too. Director Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Pride & Prejudice”) puts many of his showy camerawork instincts on display, making Adams’ character’s Manhattan brownstone feel both cavernous and claustrophobic. Gifted cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (“Inside Llewyn Davis,” “A Very Long Engagement”) lights the rooms of her home in garish pinks and chilly blues, reflecting both her mania and her loneliness. And the always brilliant screenwriter and co-star Tracy Letts, in adapting A.J. Finn’s 2018 best-selling novel, establishes a snappy tone with rat-a-tat dialogue off the top. These exchanges let us know that Adams’ Anna Fox has managed to maintain her sense of humor, despite her depression and agoraphobia.
A psychologist who has suffered a breakdown, Anna has cocooned herself with food delivery, classic films, and a steady diet of prescription drugs and red wine. (Wright employs a couple of cool, split-diopter shots with the television in the background and an extreme close-up of Anna’s face in the foreground for an unsettling, DePalmaesque touch.) But the mixture of substances and isolation makes her perspective unreliable from the start, which means the title cards indicating days of the week are useful only to the audience. Then again, who among us hasn’t felt like time is a flat circle over the past year or so?
“Tell me to go outside,” she beseeches in one of several phone calls with her ex-husband (Anthony Mackie), who’s also the father of her little girl and the film’s Greek chorus of sorts. He responds patiently, “Why not make today the day you go outside?” But she doesn’t, and Letts, as her therapist, is the one who comes to her. The rhythm of their sessions and the repetition of certain phrases, coupled with the solitary location, make these early moments of “The Woman in the Window” feel like a play on film in the best possible ways. Adams reveals her character’s instability through panicked trembles and manic cackles, yet with a fundamental wisdom underneath. It’s the kind of fine-tuned technique we’ve come to expect throughout her eclectic career.
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