I’ll review every movie that was in my Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2014. This is the first of them.
by Jaime Grijalba.
Joss Whedon is a strange bird, to say the least, and I mean that in the most positive way. I mean, he created and managed to embody the mythology of Buffy, and then went on to create two cult TV shows that are still being discussed today with heavy sci-fi elements. Then comes the other stuff that he’s done outside of television, being my favorite his web-series ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’ (2008), a masterpiece of the musical superhero genre. He’s also right now the main guy behind the whole Marvel Universe Canon, being the one in charge of helming the Avengers movies as well as the TV series that revolves around S.H.I.E.L.D. Besides that superhero stuff, he also directed one of the most surprising and refreshing Shakespeare adaptations of recent years with ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ (2012), that used a clean black and white cinematography to emphasize the acting and the framing of the movie, which was superb on both accounts. Now, here comes another movie, branded under the Joss Whedon brand, but only written by him this time. This is a strange story, and it’s so tonally different from what Joss has done before that you may want to take a breath once I finish with the premise: two completely unrelated human beings in two different places of the United States have the same ability since they are kids, they can see what the other person is seeing, but they can’t control it.
So, this is kind of like a magical, sci-fi, sorta deal where the two protagonists (a man and a woman) find themselves in trouble through their lives because of this, until one day they find out that they can communicate with each other if they speak loud enough, some kind of weird external telepathy kind of thing. The rules are strange and the source of this ability is never truly explained, and while the concept of mental illness is explored at certain spots of the film, they never come to fruition and the film prefers to play it safe for the sake of the sentimentalism of romance that is bound to happen between them even if they’ve never met. Finally, that’s what the movie’s plot boils down to: the romance of these two, how the tribulations and their feelings can make them have some understanding of what they are doing to their own normal lives (she has a husband, he’s an ex-con). The movie never cares to explore the other abilities or the reason behind the thing that they can do with their eyes, and while some may find that with the mystery they have a better film, I could argue that in the end the mystery isn’t even posed as that, it’s just like “wow, that’s weird” for 15 minutes and then the rest of the film is just normal business. You could say that they had to grow accustomed to it, but it’s still something that must drive their curiosity at some point, but nope, at least not in this film they won’t explore any possibility.
Now, that doesn’t mean that the film is bad, but when it charges all of its plot towards the element of the romance and the relation between two people that aren’t in the same place, it turns into a romantic comedy of sorts, and it wouldn’t make any difference if they were talking on the phone during the whole film (a common criticism for this movie in particular, from other critics), but I must say all of that is rebound in the last 30 minutes, when it turns into a chase film, with cars and planes and trying to get right in time, with the play of the sights between them at the maximum level of exploitation that it could have. This is some intense filmmaking here, whenever the tension of the characters in the most dangerous situations of their lives come together through the vision of the other, and how the reunion of that vision (and what it could produce in the ability itself in the end) can make up for a decent ending for what was turning into a sappy film, it’s its saving grace on its own right. You could contrast those final minutes with the awkward sex scene (it reminded me of one of the best scenes of ‘Her’ (2013) when the surrogate was used, and I was wondering in how many interesting ways could the scene in ‘In Your Eyes’ (2014) gone if it wasn’t marketed towards a specific audience). Because in a way, most of it it’s just too clean and shallow, but it wins its praise through some clever editing towards the end and thanks to the acting of the two leads (Zoe Kazan particularly does a great job).
‘In Your Eyes’ (2014) is marketed towards a female audience, and that is Ok for Joss Whedon to try. He can appeal to everyone, but for this one you might need to have some resistance to the sugary endeavor that he tries, and I mean this if you actually don’t stand that kind of thing. For me? I’m kind of a sucker for a good lo-sci-fi and this proves to be one of the few that could’ve been better if you added more sci to the whole thing. But it’s Ok, not top 10 material, but a good way to spend 5 dollars to watch it online in a sunday afternoon right beside your loved one. Wish I did that myself now. Dang.