Windfall : The Movie About Money Talks

A wealthy couple is detained by an incompetent thief

If you can remain awake until the final moments of “Windfall,” then yes, something exciting actually happens. But that’s a very long wait in Charlie McDowell’s oppressive Netflix drama, a gabby hostage movie with a single, covetable location and three unappealing characters.

Shot in Ojai in 2020 (not far from where McDowell filmed his 2014 feature, “The One I Love”), “Windfall” is dramatically flat and logically wanting. As the three wait for the agreed-upon loot to arrive, the meandering script (by Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker) includes a farcical sauna lockdown and a surprise visit from a luckless gardener. Multiple escape opportunities are ignored, especially by the wife, who spends most of the movie lounging and looking fed up. One can hardly blame her.

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A frozen opening shot of the exterior of a luxury California home forewarns of the tedium to come. A scruffy thief (played by Jason Segel at his most gormless) is poking languidly around the property, as if trying it on for size. He might be the most inept robber since the doofuses in “Home Alone,” but his lack of skills proves irrelevant when the home’s owners, a tech billionaire and his wife (Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins), return unexpectedly and acquiesce to his demands for money. More, they even encourage him to up his asking price.

Yet despite the shambolic plot and shuffling camera (briefly roused to a sprint during a woodland chase), Plemons digs beneath his character’s arrogance to unearth something like disgust — for his marriage, his money and his subjugation by a ridiculous interloper.

“Why do we keep pretending this guy is an actual threat?,” he asks his wife, angrily. He should probably be asking the screenwriters.

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