Netflix films and shows sure do have a bizarre way of conducting couples therapy; compelling married couples into deep relationship reflection. When Joe Goldberg and Love Quinn held the Conrad couple captive in You season three, the duo was forced to examine their relationship. Similarly, a home invasion in Netflix’s Windfall leads to the unnamed and unhappy couple undergoing couples therapy.
Directed by Charlie McDowell, this newest Netflix Original stars Lily Collins, Jesse Plemons and Jason Segel. The film begins in a luxurious vacation home in an unnamed destination, where the tastefully decorated interiors, humongous orange groves and plush setting reek of affluence and opulence. It seems like the perfect residence to be burgaled.
What could have been a dangerous home invasion film and a hostage situation quickly dissipates into a one-and-a-half-hour-long psychoanalysis session. The characters are purposely not given any names and are used as deliberate metaphors to highlight the various and complex socio-economic realities around us.
Plemmons is a rich, arrogant and egotistical CEO whose wet dream includes belittling all those around him (including his wife) and blowing his own hollow trumpet as he tries to establish his relevance and seek validation. Collins, his wife, runs a charity and is seen sporting a generally glum demeanour. She is frustrated by her husband’s overbearing nature and feels trapped in a marriage where her spouse constantly treats her like a “freeloader”, never failing to compare their differences.
Segel is a dishevelled everyman character who has lost his job and is trying to fit into the CEO’s shoes to live his life for a day and rob his money. However, towards the end, he finally realises how sinister and disgusting the CEO is and is appalled by the character. Segel’s usually comical and happy-go-lucky personality is in contrast with this jittery, disillusioned home invader who is desperate to live differently and start afresh.
The filmmaker does not name the characters in an attempt to keep them from being personable. There is a certain distance in this Hitchcockian thriller comedy, where the camera angles present an intimate insight into their psyche, yet keep them at an arm’s length. He deftly infuses dark humour within the tense situation where the dialogues, laced with sarcastic humour, are in direct contrast with the ominous music in the background.
Plemmons is brilliant as the CEO. He is despicably charming and one cannot get enough of him. He says, “Do you know how hard it is to be a rich white boy nowadays?” without batting an eye while we double down in laughter. The film has grim humour that is pretty stifling. Collins’ predicament as a distressed wife finds voice in her intimate conversation with Segel as she reveals how woefully trapped she feels in the relationship. While the film progresses slowly, the end is cathartic and shocking.
After an unforeseen death of the gardener, Segel spits out his disdain for the CEO before revealing how his wife, who is now unaware of her husband’s infidelity, is taking birth control pills to prevent getting pregnant with his child. Enraged, Collins kills him before shooting her husband in cold blood. This act of spraying bullets into the CEO’s body shows her freedom. She finally takes control of her life. While it ends on a cliffhanger and a bleak future for Collins who simply stares at the lifeless CEO blankly, the thriller makes a statement and promises freedom from the shackles of emotional abuse.
Being in a somewhat unthreatening hostage situation makes Collins take control of her own agency and realise the immediate need to escape. The drastic explosion to this slow-burn film within the open yet secure walls of the villa treads the waters of an ambitious Hitchcockian thriller with a bleak yet polarising ending.