Courtesy Netflix

I try to not make it a habit to watch trailers before I see a film. Trailers tend to set the expectation (as they are designed to do), but this can be a detriment sometimes. However, when the WINDFALL trailer was released, I watched it and was instantly pulled in. The edit of the trailer created a tense, high-stakes feeling, ripe with complicated characters buttings heads, and more. I was hoping that the feeling from the trailer would carry over into the film itself. Thankfully, WINDFALL did not disappoint.

WINDFALL stars Jason Segel (“How I Met Your Mother,” Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Lily Collins (“Emily in Paris,” To The Bone), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog, Disney’s Jungle Cruise), and Omar Leyva (“Grey’s Anatomy,” Truth or Dare), and is led by director Charlie McDowell.

The premise the audience is presented with is simple enough. A stranger (Jason Segel) breaks into a Silicon Valley-type’s home, a home that just so happens to rarely be visited. So, you’d think he’d be fine. Alas, as his luck would have it, he mistimed his break-in. Things go awry when the arrogant CEO (Jesse Plemons) and his wife (Lily Collins) arrive for a last-minute attempt at a romantic getaway. Needless to say, things spiral out of control.

The overall product of WINDFALL has undeniable Hitchcockian trademarks with a modern flair and feeling. Characters you cannot trust, an isolated setting where no one can escape, a bumbling criminal-type are just a handful to name. The score crafted by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans feels cut from a similar cloth. Easily a fun score to listen to if you need that hint of suspenseful nostalgia. The comedic beats within the dialogue, performances, and direction help maintain a levity that allows itself to not be strictly pigeonholed in the Hitchcockian realm. In fact, it breathes fresh life into the familiar.

(L-R) Lily Collins, Jesse Plemons, & Jason Segel l Netflix © 2022

Another highlight, though a probable issue for some, is how the audience is given just enough information about the characters. If you rely on subtitles like I do, you are clued to the identities of the characters. Nobody, CEO, Wife, and Gardener, these names for lack of better terms allow us to gauge how society sees these characters. Outside of their names via subtitles, we’re given breadcrumbs of information without giving it all away. A lesson in show not tell, this method of approach allows the mystery and suspense to continue unencumbered. That said, if you’re a viewer who likes knowing everything, this may frustrate you and may not be the right movie for you.

As to the performances, everyone is strong here when given their time. Jesse Plemons is perfectly sleazy, though, nuances in his performances keep it from veering into caricature territory. Despite Nobody’s questionable actions, Jason Segel infuses his performance with humor and heart. This facilitates a necessary empathy towards the character. Initially, there was a concern that Lily Collins’s Wife would be overshadowed by Plemons and Segel. Both are magnetic onscreen but, as the more combative characters, it is easy for Collins’s performance to read dimmer in comparison. That said, as WINDFALL progresses and the character asserts herself more, so does Collins. And her arc is arguably the most satisfying. A quick shoutout to Omar Leyva must be given. He makes great use of his time onscreen and leaves a memorable mark.

McDowell makes great use of the home featured onscreen with DoP’s Isiah Donté Lee making sure every inch is captured on camera. A character in its own right, we get an idea of the size of the property with its acreage covered with orange trees, where anyone can go in and out at their leisure if they so desired. But the isolation of the location is key here. A getaway destination easily becomes its own hell, and we are able to see the duality of the setting as we watch the characters take residence here.

A delightful slow-burn cat and mouse game, WINDFALL breathes fresh air into the familiar. Jesse Plemons, Jason Segel, and Lily Collins are delightful in their performances. This is despite the fact that the characters they play are morally compromised. The screenplay from Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker is tight, building in the tension but leaving enough breadcrumbs that nothing comes out of leftfield. McDowell’s direction shines well, with everyone bringing their A-game onscreen. If you don’t mind the slow build and/or are a fan of Hitchcock and films in that vein, WINDFALL is a good addition to your viewing roster.

WINDFALL is now available on Netflix.

Sarah Musnicky
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