Directed by Charlie McDowell – Screenplay by Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker.
Charlie McDowell’s Windfall takes place in a single location and mostly features three unnamed characters; a wealthy CEO (played by Jesse Plemons), his wife (played by Lily Collins), and the ‘nobody’ who is trying to rob their vacation home. The robber (played by Jason Segel) had planned to steal from the property while its owners were out of town, but, when they suddenly return home while he’s in their home, the robber has to improvise on how to get out of this situation unscathed. And the wealthy CEO? Well, he just wants to get him out of the house as fast as possible, even if it means having to lose some money in the process.
Charlie McDowell is quickly starting to make himself one of Netflix’s trusted filmmakers. All three of his feature-length films have a home on the streaming service, and all three of his films have featured relative stars and interesting premises. I thought his feature-length debut as a director, The One I Love, was a terrific comedy-thriller, and I even liked his follow-up, The Discovery, even though it definitely didn’t work as well. Personally, I have an interest in McDowell’s career because I think he’s a solid filmmaker who has proven that he can make great films. Unfortunately, his third feature-length effort as a director, Windfall, is a bit of a disappointment.
Co-written by Sleepy Hollow and Se7en writer Andrew Kevin Walker, Windfall is something akin to a comedy of errors with thriller elements. However, the big problem with it is that very little actually happens in it. Although the film only has a runtime of about 90 minutes, it feels much longer than that. Eventually, things do transpire, but, for most of the time, the film just features characters waiting around to get on with their lives. It feels like it should be funnier and tenser, but, instead, it just feels trivial and tedious, which is absolutely not what you’d expect from a film about a robbery or a hostage-flick. I will say that the thriller-like music is quite good, but the sound I’ll remember the film for is, honestly, more the sound of crickets.
However, I will say that I enjoyed seeing Jesse Plemons in a role that feels different for him, and I thought he delivered a perfectly solid performance as an arrogant CEO-type. Jason Segel and Lily Collins aren’t bad by any means, but their characters feel so underwritten or tired. Collins’ performance suffers significantly from the fact that the writing and the film as a whole completely fail to sell that the CEO and the wife were ever an actual couple.
It’s not quite the successful tragicomical hostage-flick deconstruction that Charlie McDowell may have been going for. Instead, it’s a terribly dull film that had so much potential on paper. It’s one of the year’s first real movie disappointments for me. I had higher hopes for this film, and I, honestly, can’t recommend it.
4.5 out of 10
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.