The Woman in the Window
By Jennifer Green,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Violence, language, suspense in Hitchcock-inspired mystery.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Just because someone has psychological, drug, or alcohol problems or a police record doesn't mean they should be instantly distrusted. Even those in positions of power or authority make mistakes and should apologize when warranted.
Positive Role Models
Anna is a person with agoraphobia and can't leave her house, but she is a child psychologist and treats the awkward and apparently abused teen across the street with kindness. She has suffered trauma in the past herself. Her tenant keeps secrets but helps her around the house. Alistair has a bad temper and appears to be abusing his wife and son. Some diversity in the cast.
Violence & Scariness
Suspense throughout as woman struggles with her own inner demons and a sense of constant threat. She faints at one point and seems to pass out most nights from a mix of wine and medication. Characters mention kids dealing with anxiety or depression, school shootings, torture. People are stabbed, nearly drowned, and killed in falls from heights. A suicide is prepared and discussed. A fatal car crash, including two dead bodies (one is a child), is seen in flashbacks. A man punches a wall in anger and another punches his teen son. A woman cuts her hand with broken glass and bleeds.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A man seems to suggest a woman has an inappropriate fascination with a 15-year-old boy. A man says he spent the night with a woman he'd just met. A married woman is said to have cheated on her husband.
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"F--k," "f--king," "motherf--ker," "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "hell."
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Products & Purchases
Characters use a Mac and an iPhone.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Anna has a drinking problem and mixes alcohol with medications, even though she knows she shouldn't. She appears to pass out every night from the mix, and the consumption seems to be causing hallucinations and memory issues. She has a stash of pills that could be used to kill a person. A woman is said to have been a meth addict in the past.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Women in the Window, based on the novel by A.J. Finn, has a lot of unsettling suspense and some very violent scenes as well as drinking, medication abuse, and psychological disorders. The film builds tension from the start as the main character (Amy Adams) struggles with her own inner demons and a sense of constant threat. Unable to leave her house due to an anxiety disorder, she fearfully watches out the window and faints at the door when she opens it. She witnesses a woman being stabbed to death and doesn't know whom she can trust. Her reality is also altered by the steady mix of medications and wine she imbibes, which seems to be causing her hallucinations and memory problems. The film has moments of graphic violence, including stabbings, near drownings, a fatal car crash (with dead bodies, including a child's), and deadly falls. A suicide is prepared and discussed. A man punches a wall in anger and another punches his teen son. Language includes "f--k," "f--king," "mother--ker," "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," and "hell."
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The Woman in the Window
Based on 2 parent reviews
Well Written Suspense and Mystery
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What's the Story?
Dr. Anna Fox (Amy Adams) is a troubled child psychologist in THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW. She is a person with agoraphobia, which is an anxiety disorder that makes her unable to leave her house, and she is mixing alcohol and medications in a self harming way. She lives alone except for a tenant (Wyatt Russell) who dwells in her basement and sometimes helps out with household tasks. She has phone conversations with her husband (Anthony Mackie), from whom she says she's separated, and young daughter (Mariah Bozeman). When a new family moves in across the street (Gary Oldham and Jennifer Jason Leigh), Anna begins spying on them out her window. She befriends their apparently-troubled teen son (Fred Hechinger) and his mother (Julianne Moore). One night, she thinks she sees the mother being murdered, but she has no proof. Complicating matters, her substance abuse and psychological problems make her an unreliable witness and she becomes unsure herself of what she saw.
Is It Any Good?
With obvious nods to Hitchcock, this film creates suspense through a blend of unpredictable characters, plot twists, ominous music (by Danny Elfman), and gloomy settings seen from odd angles. Like so many psychological thrillers before it, The Woman in the Window wants to make us question who and what is real. The actual violence is less important (or interesting) -- and comes later in the story -- than the palpable sense of menace and the uncertainty of who presents what threat. The tale turns on Anna, an unreliable witness with psychological problems whose abuse of alcohol and medications fuzzes her perceptions. The always-versatile Adams offers a solid performance that fuels the film and compensates for other, less-developed characters. Her Anna is at once heartbreaking and infuriating, a believable everywoman who has lost her will to live, but the essential details of what drove her to the life of a recluse are kept from us for more than half the movie.
There are also themes concerning motherhood and a mother's role in the film, adding to the emotion and contributing to our uncertainty about Anna's state of mind. The men are mostly there to menace, except for two (perhaps coincidentally both Black): her apparently-estranged husband, and the kind detective assigned to her case. The story is structured by days over the course of one autumn week, with Anna repeating rituals (including passing out each night and awaking startled each morning) and only halfheartedly seeking help. There's mention of a previous suicide attempt. The film's production design is all about the mood: Anna lives in a cavernous, jewel-toned brownstone where she keeps the lights constantly dimmed. She's often glimpsed from peculiar angles and reflected in mirrors as she wanders the dark house in her pink bathrobe. The structure and setting are effective enough in putting you on edge, uncertain how events will unfold but sure something bad will happen. When it does, it feels almost anti-climactic; proof again that the waiting is the hardest, but maybe also the best, part.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how The Woman in the Window creates suspense. Which moments stand out to you as the tensest, and why?
Lots of other films are referenced or seen in passing in this movie. Did you recognize any? If so, which ones?
What is agoraphobia? How does it affect Anna's life? Where could you go to find out more information about this condition?
Was the ending of the film a surprise for you? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: May 14, 2021
- Cast: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie
- Director: Joe Wright
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Violence and language
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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