The Neighbors' Window
Marshall Curry Productions LLC, 2019
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Movies/shows with heavy subjects
Many “peeping tom” movies fall into the suspense/thriller genre. The voyeuristic protagonist in question either witnesses a crime (Rear Window, Disturbia) or becomes obsessed enough to commit a crime themselves (One Hour Photo). On occasion, a film opts for the dramatic angle, providing a moral beyond “mind your dang business.” Such is the case in the Oscar-winning short film The Neighbor’s Window.
Marshall Curry’s award-winning short stars Alli (Maria Dizzia, Funny Pages) and Jacob (Greg Keller, Jane Wants a Boyfriend), a middle-aged married couple with kids, who become entranced by the lives of a twenty-something couple in the curtainless apartment building directly across from them. Observing their celebratory nature, including their sex life, Alli and Jacob clearly become envious of the couple’s youthful ways. Their jealousy leads to increased stress and arguing over matters such as Alli feeling that Jacob does not help out enough with parental duties. One day, Alli notices a shift in the vibe between the young couple they have been observing. Their life appears much more somber, making Alli reconsider her previous assumptions about their joy and bliss.
At the outset of this Oscar-winning short, it seems that we are headed for a standard “peeping tom” story arc, where someone holed up in their apartment passes the time by spying on others only to witness something heinous. After a humorous exchange between Alli and Jacob in the opening scene, the story seems pointed in the direction of the couple shaking up their routine by blasting music or smoking pot. However, the short film bypasses any such inciting incidents and heads in a completely different direction. Instead, the young couple unknowingly burrow their way into Alli and Jacob’s arguments, as the two now gauge their own happiness relative to complete strangers. Despite having healthy children and a spacious, upscale apartment, the two long for the youth and spontaneity their counterparts still have. The middle of the short, in a strange way, feels like the aftermath of a double date where one couple had way better chemistry than the other. As has been said many times, comparison is the thief of joy.
Once the young couple experiences their dramatic shift, Alli stops viewing them as a fantasy of what her life and relationship should be. She instead views them as the three-dimensional beings that they are. Regardless of how anyone’s life looks at a glance, their emotional states ebb and flow, and any unexpected news can cause a sudden change. Through watching her neighbors, Alli realizes the fragility of happiness, and it hits her like a ton of bricks.
When you’re stuck in the doldrums, it can be tough to count your blessings. Alli not only gets a reminder of all the good in her life but also how quickly things can take a major turn. The Neighbors’ Window provides less of a high-flying, escapist plot that we see in other spy/peeping tom stories and instead delivers an important reminder about what not to take for granted.