Review: ‘The Neighbor’ Starring William Fichtner And Jessica McNamee

The new film The Neighbor stars William Fichtner
(the bad guy in everything) as a lonely older man going through a midlife
crisis in the form of obsessing over his attractive young neighbor. It’s not
exactly a thriller, and not exactly a drama; more than anything this movie is
perfectly awkward. It revels in the strange nature of a midlife crisis and
attempts to explore it from every angle. We watch each cringey attempt at
interaction made by the soft-spoken protagonist as he tries everything he can
to make a connection with his new neighbor.
While the film is not bad by any means (it’s well acted and
interestingly shot) I did find myself having a hard time with the way it
handles sensitive subject matter. The young woman who lives next door is in an
abusive relationship, and in an attempt to protect and impress her, Fichtner is
driven to intervene. I would honestly be really invested in a film about using
your own personal crisis as motivation to help another person who is also
suffering in their own way. The only problem is his romantic obsession with
her. It seems to suggest that he would have just ignored the problem if she
wasn’t attractive, which is a bit of an unsettling character flaw that goes
unaddressed in the movie. When you factor in that his character is also married
and fantasizing about infidelity and mistreating his own wife, it only muddies
the waters further. Honestly, his wife is the only character who acts sensibly,
wanting to call the police and not personally involve herself. The few moments
where we explore the perspectives of the other characters involved were actual
really interesting and helped to settle these types of morally grey areas. I
just wish there were more of them.
Additionally, while the majority of the film is rather quiet
and slow-burning, toward the end it does pick up a bit of an oddly ominous
pacing that I recognized from other films I’ve seen before. Without spoiling
anything, there are some films where I just get this sense that there’s only
one way to end the story, and it’s a bit of a wild turn. Very often, my
assumptions aren’t correct and the movies just fizzle out to an ending, but I’m
happy to report that with The Neighbor I was right. The
bonkers corner that this film writes itself into is solved in exactly the way I
hoped and anticipated. So, for what it’s worth, the last third of this film is
very unique.
 
Overall, I had a pretty mixed reaction to the movie. I
didn’t especially like or dislike any major parts of it. I wish they had
handled the subject matter a bit more delicately, and the ending is a real
trip. Past that, it just didn’t leave much of an impact. The Neighbor is a fine,
if forgettable, film.
2.5 out of 5

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