Windfall is a solid Hitchcockian thriller that makes the best use of both location and a minimal cast during the pandemic.
The least you know about Windfall, the better it is. What I can tell you is that the focus is on a CEO (Jesse Plemons), his wife (Lily Collins), and a robber that we only know as Nobody (Jason Segel). The couple is arriving to their vacation home while this guy is in the process of robbing them. Things only get worse from here when the man takes him hostage. It just gets worse and worse from there on out–the situation, not the film. Jesse’s character is really rich and at one point or another, he’s having fun in watching Jason’s character and how he reacts. A robbery is serious and it is only worse with money involved. The money, however, is just a drop in the bucket given his wealth. And yet, this greed is running theme throughout the film.
Charlie McDowell and company make their base camp at this house in Ojai, California. Shooting in one location is a solid way to stay creative and keep your cast safe at the same time. Windfall does not feel like a pandemic movie even though they use a minimal cast and a single location. Throw in the familiarity with the cast and you can tell that they are putting in the best performances possible. Nobody in the cast is phoning it in and in some instances, they are playing against type. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jason Segel playing this type of character! Sure, we do not get to know much about his character and that’s fine. We just know that he’s playing an antagonist and both him and Jesse are really making each other tick.
All thrillers require a solid score and composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans do their best. I’m not saying it’s on the level of Bernard Herrmann but it’s still a worthy effort on their part. Combined with Isiah Donté Lee’s cinematography and David Marks’s editing, it is a team effort in taking this film to where it needs to go. They do a solid job in helping sell the direction of the film.
You would not know that this was a pandemic movie unless you know what to look for. The cast is minimal at three people for much of the film before the gardener (Omar Leyva) enters the picture. Having a single location is absolutely perfect and they make best use of the available space, shooting both indoors and outdoors. It’s very minimal for a thriller but I don’t mind because the filmmakers are making the best of the situation at hand. Speaking of the space, I love what the film is able to do with it. Much like the past two years, they find a way to take a beautiful space and make characters feel cooped up rather quickly.
Windfall runs a tight hour and a half and it’s every bit a thriller from start to finish even as the film has something to say about income inequality.
DIRECTOR: Charlie McDowell
SCREENWRITERS: Justin Lader & Andrew Kevin Walker
CAST: Jason Segel, Lily Collins, Jesse Plemons
Netflix launches Windfall on March 18, 2022. Grade: 4/5
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