Windfall Review: A throwback to Hitch

A slow-burn thriller that employs more than a handful of techniques used by the Master of Suspense



by

Sushmita Bose

Published: Fri 15 Apr 2022, 2:05 PM

Even if you haven’t been reading up on Windfall, it will strike you the moment you see the montage of the opening credits. It’s like a revisit to the 50s or the early 60s’ theatre when suspense thrillers set the tone at the outset with a single-minded — albeit short — stream of musical storytelling, where all the names are rolled out in succession, and the end lines didn’t pop up a few minutes into the first reel. Alfred Hitchcock used this technique most tellingly (or maybe it was noticeable since he only made movies of that particular genre), and so does this one (it has music by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans): you may be forgiven if you believe you’ve mistakenly hit the play button on I Confess or Vertigo. The title, Windfall, also stands out like a written meme, with its Hitchcockian fonts and slight angularity.

There are three main characters, whose names we don’t get to find out. There’s the intruder, played by Jason Segel (who usually does comedies). He lands in a remote estate — somewhere in California, where oranges are grown in estates — which is a holiday home owned by a full-of-himself tech billionaire, played by Jesse Plemons (last seen in The Power of The Dog), and his wife, played by Lily Collins (of Emily in Paris fame). The intruder has an agenda, which obviously includes burgling, but halfway through the chain of events he has planned, the billionaire and his wife suddenly fetch up and interrupt his plan.

Now we have a situation where there’s an intruder — potentially evil — and hostages in the same house. There’s a ‘ransom’ fixed, and some waiting time figured out (the cash will take a day to get delivered to this luxurious yet out-of-the-way outpost), and the three have to spend about 24 hours together with the intruder — seemingly — calling all the shots because he has a gun. On top of it, nothing is really what it seems: the husband-wife relationship, the actual motive of the intruder etc. — they appear riddled in greys.

Predictably, the three-way conversations lead to more layers being created — and you may feel you are watching Rope all over again. In the denouement when there’s a crime committed, and there’s a dead body, and then there’s a twist.

Superb performances all around (including a minor one by the fourth person in the ensemble, Omar Leyva as The Gardener) — a fact that’s accentuated because Windfall would have passed muster as a three-act play.

sushmita@khaleejtimes.com


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