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A Tightly Woven Thriller With Killer Performances


While “Windfall” hinges on its spectacular performances, it’s important to mention that it is also beautifully crafted in every way. The screenplay, written by Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker from a story they wrote with Segel and McDowell, has whip-smart dialogue and brilliant small moments of humor early on to provide much-needed pressure release. The film’s music, by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, is pure noir, and its sharp staccato strings pay homage to frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann. The cinematography, courtesy of Isiah Donté Lee, is deceptively simple and beautiful, making great use of the location’s natural light. The house and the grounds begin to feel like another character, with its orange groves, Zen garden, and elaborate landscaping. Everything about the world “Windfall” exists in is extravagant and slightly hollow, much like the CEO himself. 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, McDowell explained that it was important to him that the audience be able to see parts of themselves in the main trio, and that’s part of why their characters aren’t given names or specific life details:

“We learned very little about these people previous to when the film starts, and we wanted the audience to project what they wanted onto these characters, and we didn’t want to spoonfeed the audience with manipulating them to feel one way or another.”

This minimalist approach was oddly refreshing. Background traits used in other movies to establish the characters and who we’re supposed to root for as an audience have been completely removed, allowing us to judge for ourselves what kind of people our protagonists are. Whether the viewer identifies with Nobody, the CEO, or the wife depends on the viewer just as much as the film in an unusually morally ambiguous move that speaks to the movie’s greater themes. After all, in a capitalist society, is it ever possible to truly be moral?

There isn’t an ounce of fat on “Windfall,” courtesy of editor David Marks (“The Night House”), who keeps the film moving along at a breakneck pace despite the majority of the action just being dialogue scenes. Fans of independent home invasion thrillers like “Hard Candy” and “I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore” are sure to love this twisted little addition to the sub-genre that wears its influences proudly. Every aspect of the production is nearly flawless, from the production design to direction to the performances, and it all builds to an absolutely perfect ending that’s hinted at from the very beginning. If you’re looking to get your heart rate up and your mind racing, there are few better ways to spend an afternoon inside than by checking out “Windfall” on Netflix. 

/Film Rating: 9 out of 10

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