By Nathan Kamal | 14 seconds ago
Lily Collins has been acting since the age of two, and has nearly as many IMDb credits as she is years old. And though she has starred in attempted franchises like The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and successful romantic comedies like Rules Don’t Apply (and supported in Oscar-bait like mank), she really only broke through to audiences with the Netflix series Emily in Paris. While the Darren Star-created show dares ask the question “what if The Devil Wears Prada was worse and without subtext?” it still managed to become a hit with viewers. It even managed to get some Golden Globe nominations in 2021, though they became swiftly tarnished after it was revealed the show had wined and dined many Globe voters in a fabulous trip to Paris itself and also when people remembered the show is terrible. Goal Emily in Paris is not the only hit that Collins currently has on Netflix. The recently released film Windfall, which stars Collins, Jason Segel, and Jesse Plemons, is currently in the top ten most viewed films in dozens of countries worldwide. Lily Collins and Netflix: quite the team.
Windfall is directed by Charlie McDowell, who previously directed Jason Segel and Jesse Plemons in the 2017 science fiction romance TheDiscovery for Netflix (the streaming platform really loves to keep people around for a while). The director made his feature debut in 2014 with The One I Love, a peculiar and well-received movie that split the difference between a comedy and a thriller and starred madmen‘s Elisabeth Moss and mumblecore king Mark Duplass. All of McDowell’s films so far have a few things in common: they all have small casts (Lily Collins is one of just four credited actors in Windfall), they all take place in isolated locations, and they are all kind of quietly creepy. For Windfall, some of the creepiness is doubtlessly due to the involvement of Andrew Kevin Walker. Walker co-wrote the screenplay with Justin Lader, and is one of Hollywood’s most esteemed script doctors. But more importantly, Walker wrote David Fincher’s serial killer film SevenTim Burton’s sleepy hollowand Joel Schumacher’s 8MM. All of these films have a common thread of a dark, hidden world being explored by the uninitiated, plus they often have some sudden shocking violence. Windfall is no exception.
The film begins with quiet, nearly still images of a gorgeous villa. There is a pool, in which no one is swimming, and gorgeously unused French doors. It is clear this is a beautiful place, and that it is empty. At least it is empty until we find Jason Segel’s character (who is credited only as “Nobody,” which will give you a sense of what kind of movie this is) who is clearly out of place in the villa and its surrounding orange grove. He silently explores the house, and if it wasn’t clear from his scruffy beard and clothes that he doesn’t belong there, the arrival of Jesse Plemons (credited as “CEO”) and Lily Collins (credited as uh, “Wife” ), a wealthy couple with a clearly strained relationship. Although Segel initially tries to hide, he ends up holding them hostage nearly against his own will, unsure of what else to do. And then the game is really afoot.
Windfall is essentially a chamber piece, with its three characters (later joined by Omar Leyva as “Gardener”) bouncing off each other in isolation. The movie quickly becomes about class angst, as Jesse Plemons’ CEO is unable to perceive being held at gunpoint by Jason Segel’s Nobody as anything but, well, a rich CEO having to deal with a lowly nobody. For her part, Lily Collins displays some signs of conscience that seems beyond Plemons’ toxic blend of entitlement and self-pity. Neither the movie or Segel lets her off the hook on this one, exactly; after all, if she has mixed feelings about being a very rich person, she could you know, not be married to one.
Windfall has thus far received mixed reviews from critics, with some finding its blend of social commentary and Hitchcockian twists and turns to be heavyhanded. That does not seem to be bothering audiences, however, who are apparently viewing in droves. It could be they are looking for a little more Emily (though not in Paris) than they are currently getting, or maybe they are in it the thrills of watching rich people get threatened. Either way, you can give it a watch.