Three characters drive the plot for Windfall in this story of a break-in that goes wrong. Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons play a rich couple who arrives at their idyllic vacation home only to be confronted by a house bugler (played by Jason Segel). Some convoluted plot directions result in the three of them being forced to spent the night and day together while waiting for money to be delivered. But the main focus of the story is not about the crime taking place. It is an opportunity to delve into the minds and souls of the individual characters as their external façade slowly falls apart to reveal their true selves.
Director, writer Charlie McDowell obviously takes his inspiration from the style of Hitchcock as evident by the camera style, music score and plot. He even opted for the old fashion practice of starting the movie with a lengthy credits roll with a static image of a peaceful and picturesque open air patio of the vacation house in the background. It is not often we have a story that is just confined with a few characters, and no easy task to make it compelling enough for its audience to stay the course. In order for such a premise to succeed, you will need an plot that is spellbinding, and a strong script delivered by equally strong performances. Windfall had the right idea, and elements of these, but not enough to make it exceptional.
My main grudge is in the overall performances. Jesse Plemons who was last seen in the excellent The Power of the Dog, was easily the best of the three as he plays the arrogant rich guy with his trophy wife. Despite his flaws and pomposity, he was the one character we could probably identify with best. Here is someone who outwardly confident and narcistic, but yet, someone who has to struggle with the stress that comes with success and its expectations. Lily Collins whom we all loved so much as Emily in Paris was the weakest link here although her character was in fact arguably the most pivotal. Her delivery of a woman suffering from the consequence of having to compromise on her own values in order to live the life of the wife of a super rich guy, was not convincing. Perhaps it was the way her character was written, but, it just did not feel like she had such a bad break and that perhaps she was being a bit of a complainer. I can think of many people who are in a far worst position that she is in. Finally, there is Jason Segel as the clueless thief. His character seem to be least interesting and underwritten of the three. We know very little about his background and motivation. His character was not even given a name, and simply referred to as ”Nobody” in the casting roll.
What did work really well for me, was the beautiful setting. The idyllic vacation home was indeed a scene stealer with its perfect design and interior decorations surrounded by a beautiful fruit orchard. The Hitchcockian style music score also helps sets the right tone to the whole story. I found the film interesting and entertaining. The overall story was compelling enough for me to sit through while waiting patiently for its expected twist at the end. It never felt bloated or draggy because it had an easily digestible runtime of about one and a half hours. Overall, a watchable effort, just not memorable.