To some, it’s the fulfillment of one’s inner voyeuristic fantasy. For others, it’s a stark mirror into one’s reality. In Marshall Curry’s The Neighbors’ Window, a married couple (Maria Dizzia and Greg Keller) of three are just finishing dinner and putting the kids to bed, when they discover a young couple in their 20s have just moved into the building directly across from theirs. In fact, the large open windows give the couple an unobstructed view of their neighbors “christening” the new apartment and “breaking in” all the furniture…you know, having intense millennial sex in the living room and putting on quite a show.
As the sting of guilt instantly vanishes, the couple makes their neighbor’s activities must-see viewing each night. The short is not about the window show. It’s about a couple with two toddlers and an infant looking across at the fun and vibrant lives their neighbors are living. The father complains about cleaning up after the kids while experiencing way less sex than their neighbors. The mother complains she compares herself to the young, energetic woman across the way. We also see her jealous of the parties being thrown attended by actual adults and doesn’t involve screaming kids and birthday cakes.
“…the large open windows give the couple an unobstructed view of their neighbors ‘christening’ the new apartment…”
Then something happens across the street at their neighbors. No, the couple wasn’t caught peering in, nor did a murder occur, but what does take place changes everything. It’s here that The Neighbors’ Window will break your heart and then crush it. I wish I could tell you what happens, but you must experience it for yourself.
Writer/director Marshall Curry tells a fantastic story in just under twenty minutes. The set-up of the open window has been done before, but instead of making this a thriller, Curry makes the story about human nature, particularly as we head into our midlife years. The fun we had in our twenties, now a distant memory. Today, we’re living the dream of the typical family, and the reality of its hard work sets in. But just as much as the situation for our married couple causes them to reflect on their past, the ending…the second ending hits home hard. Please see this short film.
It’s cliched for a film critic to talk about the cinematography—often because it’s usually the only good thing about a bad film. But the cinematography by Wolfgang Held is exceptional. He shoots the couple’s apartment flawlessly and glides his camera around the action to enhance the story. The shots of the apartment across the street are not salacious, but more from the perspective of the married couple. There’s even a musical number in the middle that surprisingly works. The Neighbors’ Window is about as perfect a short as you can get.
The Neighbors’ Window screened at the Annapolis Film Festival and won the Academy Award for Best Short Film.