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Eye of the Beholder

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Eye of the Beholder

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd
Director: Stephen Elliott
Rated: R
RunTime: 110 Minutes
Release Date: January 2000
Genre: Suspense

*Also starring: Patrick Bergin, Jason Priestley, k.d. lang, Genevieve Bujold

Review by Akiva Gottlieb
½ star out of 4

A Review by Akiva Gottlieb A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of viewing the restored version of Alfred Hitchcock's classic `Rear Window'. That masterpiece about voyeurism influenced all later films on the subject, many of which became classics as well. `Eye Of The Beholder', the latest film to tackle voyeuristic themes, fails miserably, but not because of its subject's familiarity.

Australian filmmaker Stephan Elliott began his career with the art-house hit `The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert' and then proceeded to make `Welcome To Woop Woop', one of the worst films to manage a theatrical release in recent years. His latest film is a silly, contrived noir and the second release from Destination Films.

Ewan McGregor stars as Eye (I kept waiting for the inevitable `Eye did it!' line, but it wasn't there), a private investigator who does his peeping with computer technology. For inconsequential reasons, his wife left him, and his daughter only exists as a computerized image.

His task is to follow Joanna (Ashley Judd), a woman who kills men for their money and takes many baths. Eye follows her across the country and develops an infatuation for her. Eye is a father who has lost his daughter, while Joanna is a daughter who has lost her father. Isn't that interesting?

If nothing else, Stephan Elliott does give `Eye Of The Beholder' an interesting look. Most of the cars and clothes have a 50's noirish style. It's too bad that Elliott doesn't give us a clue as to what it all means.

By the film's final third, most of the plot does not make sense either. Many characters change personalities without any explanation. There are also numerous heavy-handed astrological references which merely add to the silliness of the production.

The reason why `Eye Of The Beholder' stays watchable is because of a fine, restrained performance by Ewan McGregor. Singlehandedly, he gives the film its tiny sense of mystery. Speaking of mysteries, what is Ashley Judd's appeal? In this film especially, she does little more than show some skin and speak lines without emotion.

However, the two worst performances come from two unlikely faces. The first, from pop vocalist k.d. lang, is so unbelievably bad that laughter is inevitable. `Beverly Hills, 90210' alumnus Jason Priestley also has five awful minutes of screen time as a small-town junkie.

`Eye Of The Beholder' is a strange film that leaves too many questions unanswered. Thankfully, the filmmakers know that by the end the audience will no longer care. Destination Films didn't make a mistake by dumping this film into the cinematic pit known as January. Hell, it'll probably even make some cash.

I can't recommend this film to any audience, other than to those obsessed with Ewan McGregor. Because aside from him, there isn't much beauty in the eye of this `Beholder'.

Copyright 1999 Akiva Gottlieb

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