The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn (Book Review)

Back before the apocalypse, I used to try to read books just before the movie adaptations came out. Think this movie was originally meant to be out in 2019, so I read the book at the start of 2019. Then the movie was delayed. Then 2020 went to shit, as we all know, and poor Gwyneth Paltrow was forced to eat BREAD.

Well, it’s now May 2021 and I think this is coming to U.K. Netflix today?? So here’s the super brief & rubbish review I wrote of the book in February 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing the movie since I barely remember the story now and can be surprised by the ending. 🙂

The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn

Plot Synopsis (via Amazon):
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

My Thoughts:

I read this as it’s being made into a movie starring my beloved Amy Adams. It’s a fun ’90s-style “cheesy thriller” like I was talking about in my Single White Female review (though not as much fun). It starts out great and I loved the mystery and trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Unfortunately, like most of these sort of thrillers (other than Malice, a guilty pleasure of mine despite Gwyneth being in it!), this one kind of craps out in the end. Disappointing as I was pretty into the story while reading it. It felt a lot like when I read The Girl On The Train – It’s a real page-turner but, by the end, I felt pretty “meh” about it. It’s better than The Girl On The Train, however, since the characters aren’t hateful as hell.

I also loved the Rear Window aspect to this (my favorite Hitchcock film) and how the character had a thing for classic black & white Hitchcock-like films (I’ve added some movies to my Watchlist thanks to this book). Overall, it’s a fun read. It’s slightly forgettable but should make for a decent enough film.

My Rating: 3/5

Little Women (2019) Review

Little Women (2019)

Directed by Greta Gerwig

Based on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms.

My Opinion:

I’m not on the Greta Gerwig bandwagon. Her movies are decent. But neither this nor Lady Bird are “Best Picture” material. Yay for a woman being recognised by the Academy finally, I guess? But why Gerwig? There are better films that have been made by women. Okay – I’ll shut up now before I get in trouble. At least her movies are more worthy than her male partner’s (I thought Marriage Story was a self-indulgent snoozefest). I also admit to not being able to stand Emma Watson. Saoirse Ronan is okay but will never ever be a favorite actress of mine. Yeah, I know – I’m old so these people aren’t my generation. I know they have their fans. I also don’t get the Timothée Chalamet thing. Fuck it – I like what I like! I’m not going to pretend to like movies or actors just because they’re currently popular. So I went into this with low expectations.

Well, hell. I quite enjoyed this movie. I have a huge embarrassing confession to make, though. Although I read a lot & do try to read some books before watching the film adaptations, I never read Little Women. More surprisingly, I have also never seen any other film adaptations. And even more surprising than that, I’ve managed to almost completely avoid spoilers for this story for over 40 damn years (other than about Beth). Honest to god, I didn’t know how this story would play out. And I loved that. I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this story. However, is that thanks to Gerwig & some actresses I don’t particularly like? No but I’m glad they made it a fun watch & I even managed to not hate Emma Watson despite her making her usual scrunchy “acting face”. I should’ve read this book. Why didn’t they make us read this one in school?! Damn American educational system! Because this is a good story and I loved it. These characters are great and I loved how different their personalities were. I can see how everyone will have a favorite character from this story. Not sure who my favorite is but I’m going to read the book to decide that as they could be quite different (Florence Pugh was a lot of fun as Amy but I’m guessing she’s the most unlikeable in the book).

Luckily, the British educational system did make my hubby read this one as a kid (he’s a Beth fan, though I’m sure he’ll correct me if I got that wrong). One thing I’ll say is that he absolutely hated how they messed with the linear narrative of the original story. The movie’s story jumps around a lot and some very big reveals are shown right away, which he thinks will have ruined the story for me and for anyone one else who may also be new to Little Women. I have to say the nonlinear structure didn’t work well and, yes – it did ruin what could have been some very big moments. What a shame. Why mess with such a classic? The time jumps also weren’t portrayed well as the characters didn’t look much different despite it sometimes being years later, making it slightly confusing if you weren’t paying close attention (we could hear the people in front of us talking to each other & often being confused as to what just happened). Oh, Amy has bangs/a fringe… We must be in the past again! It was a stupid way to try to be “clever” with a story that people have been perfectly happy with for years. So, what can I say? I enjoyed this movie but let’s be honest: The credit goes to Louisa May Alcott. It’s a brilliant story. I loved it. I’m sorry I haven’t yet read the book. Shame on me.

My Rating: 7/10

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009) Review

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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Män som hatar kvinnor)

Directed by Niels Arden Oplev

Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson

Starring:

Michael Nyqvist
Noomi Rapace
Lena Endre
Sven-Bertil Taube
Peter Haber
Peter Andersson
Marika Lagercrantz
Ingvar Hirdwall
Björn Granath
Ewa Fröling

Plot Summary:

Wealthy retired businessman Henrik Vanger hires disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist to investigate the mysterious 1966 disappearance of his favorite grandniece, Harriet. Blomkvist is aided in his investigation by a deeply troubled but genius young hacker by the name of Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo).

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My Opinion:

I know this is a very popular book & film series. I read the first book a few years ago. Yes, I thought it was good. The mystery was very compelling & I read the thing really quickly because I couldn’t wait to find out what had actually happened to Harriet Vanger. Top marks for the mystery! And then there was the character of Lisbeth Salander. Such an intriguing character! As I’ve only read the first book, I don’t know much about her. I didn’t enjoy the first book enough to read the rest but, if I ever do, it will only be to read more about her character & what happens to her & Blomkvist. You find out very little about her in the first one – I hope her character is more fully explored in the rest?

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As for the movie, it follows the novel very closely from what I remember other than (naturally) having to leave some things out to save on time. In the novel, the Vanger family is huge and so complex – I remember there was a family tree in the book that I had to keep going back to when I couldn’t remember who someone was in relation to everyone else. The movie seemed to leave a lot of this out but I think it still managed to be a bit confusing for viewers who hadn’t read the novel beforehand. I found all of the Vanger family members very underdeveloped in the film and was glad I’d read the book first so I had a bit more understanding of each of them.

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The film focuses much more on the far more interesting characters of Mikael Blomkvist & Lisbeth Salander. Which is fine as they’re the main characters in all the books (um, right?) but I think the intriguing mystery suffers a little bit in the film – it was much more exciting in the book. Part of this is me, though – I often don’t enjoy a film as much when it’s an adaptation of a book I’ve already read. And I get annoyed when the film isn’t faithful to the book but then get a little bored when it IS as it’s then an inferior version of what I’ve already “seen” in my head. Plus, with a mystery, once you know how it ends there’s not as much excitement in hearing the story again, I suppose.

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As for the actors, they all do a fine job. Yes, Noomi Rapace is very good – I know she’s been praised for the role. When looking this up for the review, I found it interesting that the title of this in Swedish, Män som hatar kvinnor, is “Men Who Hate Women”. Yes, that title makes sense. Lisbeth Salander has some kind of horrible history that’s hinted at in the film. And then there’s all the raping… Yes, lots of that. This is why I wasn’t really planning on reading the rest of the books and I’m not sure if I’m bothered about the rest of the films or not, although I’d like to know more about Lisbeth. Plus, there’s not enough hacking for my liking! She’s this brilliant hacker but they don’t go into that TOO much in the book or the film. I’m hoping there’s much more of this in the further books/films? I’d like far more hacking & far less raping. And Lisbeth kicking more ass. Will I get these things? Do you recommend I at least watch the further films? (Doubt I’ll bother with the books but I may enjoy the films more that way anyway).

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Summary:

A very compelling mystery that’s not explored in near as much detail in the film as in the novel, which I found a little disappointing. The family who are a part of this mystery are underdeveloped in the film. But the mystery kind of only really serves as a backdrop to the two main and much more interesting characters of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander anyway – I was satisfied with their portrayals in the film. There are very disturbing themes in the film that I can’t fully go into in case you’re one of the only people left who doesn’t know a thing about these books or films. Overall, this “genre” has just never been my sort of thing. The book & film ARE better than I’m making it sound and I suppose I would recommend them. If you’re not easily disturbed by misogynistic violence…

I hope Lisbeth kicks more ass in the further films.

My Rating: 7/10

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**This was the second place choice when I asked all of you which film I should review next. First place review is here: Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Thanks again for all your input. 🙂 Up next will be The Man Who Fell To Earth.