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Joe Wright to Shadow Hitchcock in ‘The Woman in the Window’

The director will follow-up ‘Darkest Hour’ with a bestselling thriller steeped in cinematic reverence.
Joe Wright Filming Hanna
By  · Published on March 26th, 2018

The director will follow-up ‘Darkest Hour’ with a bestselling thriller steeped in cinematic reverence.

Having just directed Gary Oldman to his first Academy Award in Darkest Hour, Joe Wright is in the process of narrowing down his follow-up project. Originally, an adaptation of John Williams’s campus classic “Stoner” looked to be his next object of affection. Now, Variety reports that The Woman in the Window could be right around the corner for the director instead.

Based on A.J. Finn’s novel of the same name, a contemporary thriller often described in the same breath with Alfred Hitchcock and Gone Girl, The Woman in the Window will revolve around an agoraphobic pop culture obsessive who fills her time with too many bottles of wine and misty daydreams of happier yesterdays. When a seemingly perfect family moves in next door, our heroic recluse peeps a horror through her blinds she cannot possible shake. Did she see what she thought she saw? Can she do anything about it?

To assist with the production, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts will be handling the screenplay. Letts is probably best known for writing August Osage County, but in recent years he has also turned in memorable acting performances in Lady Bird, The Post, and The Lovers. He has also proven himself as a wickedly demented mind, diving deep into the psychotic POV of Killer Joe, which he adapted from his own play for director William Friedkin. You’ll never look at a drumstick the same way after you witness Matthew McConaughey’s fowl abuse in that grotesquely terrifying experience.

While Wright has practically made an entire career out of adaptations, he has not tackled a thriller since 2011’s Hanna. The Woman in the Window is ripe with potential for his visual flourish. Even if he descends into a rabbit hole of Rear Window homage, the resulting film would gain attention beyond the arthouse set. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Darkest Hour scored serious coin at the box office, earning a total of $144 million to date.

The thriller is a well-tread arena for filmmakers. It’s a thin skeleton that only impresses depending on the muscle and skin the artist stitches to its frame. Hanna could have easily ended its life as a generic chase picture with super-spy trappings, but Wright wrapped that film in the body of a fable. Little Red Riding Hood vs Cate Blanchett’s Big Bad Wolf. Kung Fu Alice in Wonderland.

Say what you will about his interpretation of Pan, but Wright does not follow the path of other storytellers, and he never makes the obvious choice for his narratives. Even with his most basic adaptations of Austen and Tolstoy, Wright achieves a singular vision. He is a director incapable of being stuffy.

Finn’s “The Woman in the Window” ran away with the bestseller list in January, and it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came calling. The involvement of Wright and Letts puts a little more heat behind this project than your average genre team. We still need to see whether Stoner or The Woman in the Window gets the greenlight first, but I’m crossing my fingers for the thriller. Wright has the potential for delivering something more Gone Girl than The Girl on the Train.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)