Fresh off his oscar bid, Jesse Plemons (Power of the Dog) stars in the new Netflix psychological thriller, Windfall alongside Netflix darling, Lily Collins (Emily in Paris) and fan favorite Jason Seigel (How I Met Your Mother). The film is largely conceptual and takes a stab at a bit of dark humor and existentialism. But is it so boring it’s unwatchable? Or does its lofty intellectual ambition save it from obscurity?
The Conservative Critics asks; is it entertaining? Does it have intellectual/artistic value? And most importantly, is it liberal propaganda?
Conservative Critic Meter Check: Windfall
Overall rating: Fine
Windfall follows the aftermath of three unnamed characters when a wealthy couple arrives home unexpectedly during a home robbery. The film bills itself as a conversational thriller but really presents as a highly conceptual exploration of existentialism. If it wasn’t such a shallow exploration, it might have even been more interesting. However, the film tackles a lot of similar principles to other popular shows and movies of its kind such as wealth, ambitious marriages, the American class system of service workers, and other such ideas. Despite the progressively heightened seriousness of the unnamed trio’s situation and the increasing chance of bloodshed, Windfall does not capture viewers into the necessary anxiety of a true thriller and neither does it meaningfully explore its subject matter.
The beautiful cinematography reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock techniques, the performances, and the sly quirky style of the screenplay saves the film from total disaster but are not enough to make it any good.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Very Dull
Windfall is a snoozer there is no getting around it. Partly because of the conceptual construct, it’s difficult for viewers to care enough about the wealthy couple or the burglar to feel invested in the outcome of their uncomfortable situation. Further, the pace is slow and the outcomes fairly predictable. There are no surprises for the viewer to enjoy, no real twists. Even the ending which may be a little surprising seems like a long time coming. It’s a drag.
Does it have intellectual/artistic value?
Rating: It’s very in its head
The screenplay is very in its own head about what it’s trying to accomplish. Positing the question: What if the owners came home during a burglary but the burglar didn’t really want to kill them? And expanding from there on several questions like – What morally justifies the burglar? What if the victims feel as trapped in their lives as the burglar?
These are great questions to spawn a riveting discussion over a bottle of Italian wine but they don’t seem to quite make a film. Or if they can make a film, it’s not this one (actually these are sort of similar questions asked in the very successful White Lotus). The filmmakers were either unwilling or unable to venture from the purity of their train of thought and it rendered the film highly intellectual but unfortunately not particularly deep or well explored. Without spoiling much, it’s not exactly a hot take that a wealthy tech CEO be portrayed as a robber himself in the face of a man robbing his home or to explore his wife’s dissatisfaction with the sacrifice of her independence. A step back from the material might have really benefited the outcome.
That being said, Plemons, Collins and Seigel are extremely committed. They are all funny, intense, and well seasoned. Additionally, the film is well shot. It’s a sort of Hitchcock aesthetic with narrow scope, filming around corners and under treelines to limit the viewer’s line of sight but it’s done with the addition of farce. So at times the shot reads suspense and at others it reads playful.
Overall it’s just too overthought and under edited to be everything it wanted to be.
Is it liberal propaganda?
The storyline is very liberal in that the wealthy male who has built some unnamed company off some kind of tech algorithm is clearly the “mean one” even though he’s actively being robbed by someone else. The robber is portrayed as bad but also more morally righteous, perhaps more honest about who he is than the wealthy man. Additionally, the married woman is suffocated by her domestic role and feels undervalued in her marriage because to liberals there’s no chance a young, smart woman could marry a rich man and just be happy with it.
Conservatives value someone who creates and who stimulates more wealth for all even if that means the most wealth for themselves. Our principles prohibit begrudging money earned even that which is earned by one’s family as long as everyone still has the equal opportunity to create and to earn and pursue the great American dream. Liberals cannot stand it that people are richer than them even if they are actually extremely rich. All tech CEOs are evil despite objectively bettering our world.
Further, it’s a very liberal notion that women can never be happy as a wife. The women in liberal utopia are always being undervalued by their mean rich husbands. It’s absurdist and also sexist because women are very capable of entering and exiting relationships that benefit them either for love, wealth, or other ambitions.