If you thought there was probably something Hitchcockian about Amy Adams‘s new thriller, The Woman in the Window, you are probably right.
The Woman in the Window stars Adams as an agoraphobic woman named Anna Fox who lives alone in her New York City apartment. One day, she lets her neighbor, Jane Russell (Julianne Moore), into her home. The two form an unexpected bond, and Anna, who spies on the Russell family from the inside of her own home, Rear Window style, witnesses what she believes to be her new friend’s muder.
It’s not until the police come through the next day with a different woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) claiming to be Jane Russell, that Anna begins to suspect the Russell family (and the investigators) are hiding something.
Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, and Gary Oldman co-star in this Joe Wright-directed film based on A.J. Finn’s novel. The screenplay is also written by a man who appears to never take a vacation from acting, writing, and producing—Tracy Letts.
The Woman in the Window isn’t just your typical Gone Girl meets Rear Window fare—there are actually levels to the release of this film that you might not initially realize. If the name A.J. Finn doesn’t ring a bell for you, it should. It’s the pseudonym of the writer Dan Mallory, who was exposed this year as something of a literary scammer. The Woman in the Window went number one in 2018 and Mallory reportedly secured millions to adapt it for the screen in addition to his original seven figure, two book deal. However, a year after the book’s release, it was revealed that Mallory had been lying about a lot of his past—from surviving cancer and a supposed brain tumor of his own to his mother’s supposed death and his brother’s supposed suicide—to weasel his way into success. He eventually chalked up his stretching of the truth to a result of his Bipolar II Disorder diagnosis.
The investigation also revealed that Mallory apparently took many key elements of The Woman in the Window‘s plot from a 1995 film called Copycat, which starred Sigourney Weaver as an agoraphobic professor, and co-stars Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney, and Harry Connick, Jr. Yes, Mallory actually copied from a movie with a title that connotes imitation.
After Mallory’s scheme was uncovered, many people wondered what would become of the publisher turned scam artist, but his publishers at HarperCollins announced that they would still release his second book in January 2020. The question that remains is whether or not the star power behind the film adaptation of The Woman in the Window could obfuscate the scandal behind it. (And also if Adams will finally win an Academy Award, but that question will have to be answered in 2021).
According to the reactions to the first trailer of The Woman in the Window, which was released today, it seems that most people have already forgotten about A.J. Finn, aka Dan Mallory, and the fact that this story was at the center of an international literary scandal. Could a movie about a person unsure if they can believe everything they see, based on a book that was popularized thanks to an intricate web of lies, surpass the scandal that initially popularized it?