Release Date: 03/11/22
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"A man breaks into a tech billionaire's empty vacation home, but things go sideways when the arrogant mogul and his wife arrive for a last-minute getaway."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
Directed by Charlie McDowell, the director behind the 2014 critical hit The One I Love, a film that came out of nowhere and rightfully put him on the map as an up-and-coming director to pay attention to. He then followed that with his second film, The Discovery in 2017, featuring a stellar cast, released through Netflix to lesser critical reception. Now he returns in 2022, pairing up with Netflix again for his third film, Windfall.
Shot in one location at least within the screen, the film takes place entirely at a tech billionaire's vacation home. It doesn't take long following the opening few minutes of the film to realize that Jason Segal's character, roaming around this empty mega ranch, does not belong there. The way the character meanders around giving himself the grand tour while looking for valuables or cash, then further proves that this is a burglar who has broken in. When Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins' characters unexpectedly come home, confronted with this burglar, it's clear that not only is he inexperienced in burglarizing but that there is more to it than simply breaking into a rich person's home.
One of the sort of interesting choices in this film is that no character refers to each other by name. There are no names mentioned for any of the main on-screen characters, Jason Segal, Jesse Plemons, and Lily Collins. It doesn't add or take away anything from the film necessarily, but it came off odd that our Burglar knows who Jesse Plemons character is, but ceases to call him by his name. Even more bizarre, Jesse Plemons tech billionaire is never mentioned by name by his wife Lily Collins, either. Speaking of his wife, he only refers to her as babe. Which in this case works as it gives shades of who his character is at heart. The way Plemons effortlessly slides into the self-aggrandizing, toxic, rich, white, male lifestyle is entertaining to watch even if you despise his character, yet, sheerly because of Plemons talents, he's still somewhat likable. This brings me to one of the key problems the film struggles with, which is that the other lead characters, Segal and Collins, have little to work with. Segal plays his character rather 2-dimensional; he's sort of morose or angry. The head-scratcher here is that he helped write the story, so you'd think he would have given his character more depth than what's presented. Collins' character's identity and motivations are all over the place until the second act when she finally emerges, but then feels rushed, certain actions taken feel unearned and uneven. Unfortunately, the film fumbles in the third act with a conventional ending that doesn't feel completely earned. It's convenient, border-line lazy writing that comes across as if they didn't know how to end it, and opted to take the easy, less interesting path.
While Windfall certainly has its flaws, there is a lot to admire and appreciate. The score by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans is striking and bombastic and the cinematography by Isiah Donté Lee is gorgeous and well shot. There are some comedic moments that work well, specifically a scene involving the characters deliberating about the amount of money that the burglar should ask for. Yet ultimately the film does a disservice to itself by not fleshing out all of its characters and its ability to land the ending. However, with a lot of mediocre Netflix offerings, you could do a lot worse than spending 90 minutes with Windfall.