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Film Review: In Your Eyes

When Joss Whedon writes something, you generally expect it to have great dialogue and characterization, some stuff that will make you uncomfortable, and an ending that, while not necessarily happy or good, will be satisfying.

The new film In Your Eyes has two of those. It’s a start.

In Your Eyes is the story of Rebecca and Dylan, who live in New Hampshire and New Mexico, respectively, and how they somehow share a psychic bond allowing them to communicate. They couldn’t be more different — she’s a society wife with mental issues; he’s an ex-con just trying not to get pulled back in — but, as is to be expected in a supernatural romance, they manage to fall in love.

And then, because it’s a Joss Whedon script, everything falls apart.

Directed capably by relative-unknown Brin Hill from a script by Joss Whedon (who needs no introduction), In Your Eyes stars Zoe Kazan (Nina on Bored to Death) as the porcelain-doll-looking ingenue Rebecca and Michael Stahl-David (The Black Donnellys) as Dylan, who looks a fair bit like True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten. Kazan is at her best when she’s suffering from what her chauvinistic-doctor-husband (Mark Feuerstein, Royal Pains) calls seizures — seizures she experiences when something bad happens to Dylan (such as getting blindsided in a bar fight or trying to stop his kitchen from catching fire). Stahl-David, I think, is actually the better actor here; I felt he imbued his performance with more honesty and emotion. Not that Kazan was bad, but Stahl-David was better.

The cast is rounded out with David Gallagher (Simon on 7th Heaven) and Steve Howey (Kevin on Shameless) as Dylan’s partners-in-crime; Nikki Reed (Rosalie in Twilight) as barfly-and-occasionally-interested-in-Dylan-girl Donna; Steve Harris (The Practice) as Giddons, Dylan’s parole officer; and Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing) as Diane, a fellow society wife in Rebecca’s world. Of that list, I think Harris was probably the best of the bunch, imbuing Giddons with a combination of snark and compassion that you see in TV’s best POs.

The cinematography itself was rather skillful, as it’s a challenge to do something new with the “two people feel/see/hear each other over a distance” thing. The conversations between Rebecca and Dylan cut quickly, and especially when they first realize they can hear each other the camera work and editing on Dylan’s half of the scene is quite nice. Credit for that should go to editor Steven Pilgrim (30 for 30). The music, by Tony Morales (The Riches) was relatively atmospheric and I didn’t notice anything distracting about it.

According to IMDB, Whedon wrote this script when he was 28, back in 1992. The flaws in it kind of show — while his snappy dialogue remains snappy and his characterization remains sharp, the ending has a few massive plot-holes in it and some parts clearly are dated — for example, some of the airport stuff that was glossed over and the “now what’s going to happen” at the very end. A lot of that ruined the end of the film for me, although it didn’t overshadow the good stuff — including possibly the most weird non-alien-or-fantasy-creature sex scene you’ll see in a while and also a great bit of dialogue when the main characters finally meet in person (it’s a romance; of course you know they will).

In Your Eyes is being distributed through Vimeo On Demand — $5 for a 72-hour rental — and the medium is excellent in terms of quality and ease-of-use; you can pay with Paypal or by credit card, and I streamed to my computer over wi-fi and then transferred it to a 42-inch flat-screen television over a cable and there were no artifacts in the picture or the sound, aside from a brief moment of buffering here and there (which was more a function of my system than Vimeo’s). The captions could use some work (they appear on a translucent dark-gray bar, instead of just over the image) but they were accurate and easy to read.

Overall I think that In Your Eyes is an okay film. The first two acts are good (especially the scene in the very beginning, which you may have already seen — the sledding scene), although when the script starts raising the stakes over and over in the third I felt things got muddled and difficult to believe. For Whedon completists, $5 isn’t a lot of money to spend — much less than a ticket to, say, Avengers 2 — but I don’t think I’ll watch this movie again the same way I might re-watch Serenity or the first Avengers movie.

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Note to Parents: This film contains adult language, adult situations, slightly-more-than-mild-but-less-than-moderate violence (nothing explicit), and one nudity-free sex scene. It should be acceptable for most PG-13 audiences. You should, of course, use your own best judgment when it comes to your children.

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About the Author

Josh Roseman (not the trombonist; the other one) lives in Georgia. His fiction has appeared in Asimov’s, Escape Pod, and the Crossed Genres anthology Fat Girl in a Strange Land, among others. His voice has been heard around the fiction podosphere as well, including here on Escape Pod. Find him online at roseplusman.com, or on Twitter @listener42.

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