The word “Windfall” refers to any light object blown by the wind as well as a sum of money received unexpectedly, and Charlie McDowell’s thriller-drama “Windfall” attempts to create a visual representation of both of these interpretations. Starring Jason Segel, Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons, the film features three unnamed characters who are stuck in the most bizarre and uncomfortable situations and try to learn more about each other in the process.
CEO and Wife: Pretending a Happy Marriage
Over the next thirty or so hours of plot and hour of the film’s running time, McDowell gradually reveals more and more about his characters. The CEO is like one of the modern villains of today’s capitalist world. He is almost outrageously proud of his accomplishments in technology, but also terribly insecure about the superficial power he seems to possess. He appears to have a history of downsizing business which has resulted in countless people being laid off and this often seems to haunt him. When he first tries to get into the intruder persona, that’s the first thing he suspects: that the intruder must have been among the people who lost their jobs because of him and are now back for revenge.
The billionaire also has his own denialist reasoning about this: he believes that by firing them, he redirected countless people to more stable jobs and lives. He obviously has a “money can solve everything” feel to him, and at times he rants about the hardships of being a rich white man these days, things that only a selfish white privileged person would say. But without much meaning or insight into real world scenarios like the one he finds himself in, he is completely clueless and very scared inside.
When the villa’s gardener arrives at the house the next morning, the CEO callously drags him into the mess as well. On a piece of paper that the gardener gives him to sign, he writes the order “Call 911”, which the attacker accidentally learns about and takes the gardener hostage as well. The CEO’s only weapon is to try to humiliate the intruder by calling him a loser who is jealous of the billionaire’s superiority, which only backfires as the enraged intruder fires his gun, which frightens the gardener into trying to run through the glass window. Escape attempt. He fails miserably, bumping into sharp pieces of broken glass, and bleeds out.
As expected of such a character, the CEO expects to gain control (albeit mild) over his wife and their marriage. Almost from the start, the wife appears to be unhappy in her marriage. She is seen to flinch in front of her husband when he unnecessarily lies to an intruder about things, correcting her husband’s words about their seemingly failed marriage, and becomes annoyed when her husband interrupts her.
Despite all this, she continues to stick to the marriage façade in the first part of “Windfall”. She mentions that she is professionally happy and knows for sure that this will continue to be the case for the next five years, to which the CEO corrects her, reminding her that she will be taking a break from work when they have a baby. The wife obviously does not want this to happen, neither the child nor the break in work, but she does not mind either. That night, in a shameless suggestion, her husband tells her to try something and get close to the intruder to create an escape opportunity. Understandably, she is disgusted and oblivious, and her character begins to change from the next morning. Now she begins to object to her husband, and when he rants about the weakness of people asking for help, she recalls that she asked him for help, to pay off an education loan. She reveals that she knows about her husband’s dirty deeds (or maybe crimes) for which he paid money to keep the women from talking.
Gradually, she questions his need to involve the gardener in the situation, his inability to help or resolve the situation in any positive way, and finally tries to take matters into her own hands. She talks to the intruder, trying to calm him down and set him up so that he no longer fires a gun and that the situation does not escalate again until the money arrives.
Windfall Ending Explained: Will the attacker be able to get away with the money? What will end?
When a car finally pulls up to leave the money bag in the driveway, the intruder lets the wife go to get out and get her. Now, when a wife goes out to get money, she first thinks about running away. She previously spoke of the moment right before her wedding when she looked down at her feet and considered whether to take a step forward by making her the expectedly dutiful wife of a billionaire CEO, or take a step back and let her live her life. She chose to step forward, and now she’s looking down at her feet again, only to choose to step back. She returns to the house with the money and the intruder counts it out. Although her hands and feet are bound, the wife manages to pick up the broken glass with which she tries to free herself.
Meanwhile, just before leaving, the intruder has a final confrontation with the CEO, revealing that the snob will forever be alone as his unhappy wife takes birth control pills. Hearing this, the wife pauses in shock and then continues to try to cut the cables from her legs. As soon as the burglar leaves the house, she grabs a heavy stone exhibit and crushes his head. Her husband laughs out loud congratulating her and tells her to release him, but the wife picks up the dropped gun and shoots him dead with it. She then places the gun back into the attacker’s dead hand and looks down at her feet again in a state of complete shock and fright. With a deep sigh appropriate after the completion of a long overdue task, she takes a step forward and slowly makes her way to the dark driveway.
Quite frankly, the ending of “Windfall” doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie. The events of the last minutes seem too sudden and almost forced, as there is no buildup in them. Despite the wife’s growing discomfort in the marriage, the outburst of aggression seems out of place. The character Nobody remains hidden in obscurity – he does not reveal who he is, what his past or present is, or why he came to rob this particular house. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing, since it can only be seen as a catalyst, without many goals of its own, but only to stimulate important changes in the lives of two other people. In this sense, “Windfall” can be perceived as the story of a woman who, within a day and a half, turns from an obedient wife into a free person.