Looking camp right in the eye
My Amy Adams Oscar campaign continues
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If you’re new here, welcome! And thank you for being here. I’m Michael Sun, the Netflix Culture Editor at Junkee, and this is a newsletter where I’ll unpack a new Netflix title every week, alongside some related recommendations and, more generally, things I can’t stop thinking about. (It’s also one of three newsletters you can get when you subscribe.)
This week, I finally — FINALLY — get to talk about The Woman in the Window, a very camp thriller starring Amy Adams that I have been anticipating for no less than three years, which is (by far) the longest time in my life I have ever committed to anything. It is difficult to fully put this film into words, so please imagine me gasping every five seconds as you read.
The Woman in the Window
The Woman in the Window is my event movie of 2021. The Woman in the Window is my Titanic. The Woman in the Window is my Fight Club. The Woman in the Window is my Citizen Kane in that I need a movie released in 79 years’ time about the entire writing and production process; it will be called LETT after Tracey Letts, who wrote The Woman in the Window’s screenplay, and will probably win an Oscar for production design. The Woman in the Window is my Snydercut in that I would watch 4 hours and 2 minutes of Amy Adams looking frazzled. As one friend quipped recently over iMessage: what do we want? A woman! Where do we want her? In the window!
The reason I have been breathlessly gushing about The Woman in the Window is because it is unbelievably, almost inexplicably camp. The Woman in the Window is camp because all movies starring Amy Adams are camp (do not ask me to explain further, this is simply a universal truth), but especially movies starring Amy Adams as an agoraphobic woman who might have witnessed the murder of Julianne Moore take place across the road. The Woman in the Window is so camp that it was asked not to attend the 2019 camp-themed Met Gala for fear of putting other celebrities to shame; when Karlie Kloss famously tweeted about ‘looking camp right in the eye’ that same night, what she was actually looking at was a screenshot of The Woman in the Window.
Some would say that thrillers like this have always been camp, and they would probably be right. Hitchcock, king of weaponising open-mouth gasps, slow and revealing head turns, and boys obsessed with their mummies: camp! Every 90s thriller to feature at least one and sometimes two femme fatales getting revenge on the men who wronged them: camper! The Woman in the Window — AKA the natural extension of both: campest!
Based on the 2018 bestseller of the same name, The Woman in the Window is overflowing with campy melodrama, at the core of which is the double-identity confusion that sets off the entire plot. Julianne Moore — the victim of a maybe-murder — claims she is a woman named Jane Russell, but Jane Russell is actually...Jennifer Jason Leigh, alive and well in full mean-girl-suburban-mum cosplay? What is the truth? Is Julianne Moore even real? Was the whole murder imagined? Also, importantly, is the titular Woman in the Window Amy Adams, looking out from her window, or is it Julianne Moore, who may or may not have been murdered in the window opposite Amy Adams’ window?
If camp is all about exaggeration, then all of these questions are only heightened by Joe Wright’s direction, as hyper-concentrated and hyperbolic as ever. Sounds are elevated to the stuff of nightmares — a wine glass shattering becomes an airplane engine; leaking water droplets form a menacing metallic chorus. The camera oscillates and shudders with dizzying speed. Every actor was probably told to have four iced long blacks before stepping on set. In another universe, Joe Wright is in jail for being too dramatic but I’m very glad that I am living in the universe where he is directing The Woman in the Window.
Thankfully, there are not as many jump scares as the genre might imply, although this is still not a movie for the faint-hearted, which all Amy Adams stans probably are since we are all anaemic (again, simply a universal truth). What it is, though, is deliriously frenzied and deliriously fun viewing. The Woman in the Window is cinema, baby.
The Woman in the Window streams tonight on Netflix.
Watch these too:
The Girl on The Train, another entry into the tried and true genre of ‘women who see things happen and are then convinced they didn’t actually see it’ (see also: Gaslight). This one also features Emily Blunt as the titular girl on the titular train in a performance almost as grand and outsize as Amy Adam’s.
Of course, The Woman in the Window’s campy thriller forebears, like The Glass House and Jennifer Lopez’s Enough.
Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, a similarly frenetic, fast-talking thriller to feature both multiple deceptive storylines and a camp icon (Toni Collette).
I can’t stop thinking about:
Speaking of camp, this image of Woody Harrelson at what appears to be a French Hunger Games red carpet in his pajamas which, indeed, is camp.
This tweet from Mz. Sawayama, British pop icon, which means that someone who has worn this very frilly purple archive Balmain number has also watched The Mitchells vs. The Machines, which, by my logic, means that since I have watched The Mitchells vs. The Machines, I will also get to wear a very frilly purple archive Balmain number.
This interaction between Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill which proves that Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are single-handedly keeping queer cinema alive. “Blue is the warmest colour,” writes Jonah Hill on a photo in which he is wearing all blue. “Call me by your name allll day,” comments Channing Tatum. This is also camp.
This 2017 interview with Dame Judi Dench which has just resurfaced. I imagine Dame Judy Dench is very happy with her trees and champagne, which is a feeling I could experience too if I could just close all tabs.
And apropos of nothing, Gwyneth Paltrow commenting on Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram:
Frank Ocean walked so Reese Witherspoon could get comments like this from Gwyneth Paltrow.