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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 John Beachem
2½ stars out of 4

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It may be a hackneyed old saying, but it's used several times in "Eye of the Beholder", the new movie from writer/director Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert). It also seems to describe this film fairly well. While the vast majority of critics couldn't stand the film, calling it muddled, incoherent, and inprobable, I found it quite interesting. The problem is, that while it is beautifully filmed and involving, it is significantly marred by a horrible ending and a lack of any likeable characters.

The film opens by introducing us to a nameless investigator (Ewan McGregor), who works for a branch of the british government which seems similar to the CIA. The investigator is known only as The Eye in the credits. His latest assignment is to find out why the bosses son is ripping off the trust fund. He finds the son with a lady (Ashley Judd) whom he has apparently been giving the funds. For reasons unknown to us, she hacks him up with a butcher's knife and then flees to the United States. The Eye follows her, first as part of his job, and then slowly out of obsession over this woman.

I could write a whole lot more, but I don't want to give away too much of the twisty plot. Alright, when I hear someone call a movie unrealistic or improbable, I must admit to being a bit shocked. I could have sworn that one of the main reasons people went to the movies was to escape reality and dull, everday experiences. Okay, I'm done with my rant. "Eye of the Beholder" starts off with a very amusing little intro, in which we're shown several useful little gadgets which would make James Bond envious. Part of the fun with this film is that all the high tech devices The Eye uses are realistic. They're not overly sci-fi like, and they're not present to be used in only one situation, like those in the Bond films.

I've always felt that one of the most important things in a movie is the soundtrack. While a great soundtrack can't always save a movie, it can certainly help one to forgive some of the film's shortcomings. On the other hand, an awful soundtrack can completely derail a good film. "Eye of the Beholder" has a wonderful soundtrack. It is rousing and fierce when needed, subdued and moving when required. For example, there is a scene in which Ashley Judd races over an Alaskan highway, images blurring through her mind. The score which plays during this perfectly highlights the frenzy and frustration she is feeling at that moment. Another point worth mentioning, is the interesting transitions that Elliott uses throughout the film. They involve a snowglobe of whatever town is being travelled to, slowly changing into the actual location. You'll have to see the film to understand why snowglobes hold significance.

As I said, there are two major flaws at work in this film. One, is that nearly every character we run into is completely despicable. Even Jason Priestley shows up briefly as a druggie/rapist. Ashley Judd's character is a murderer, so no redeeming qualities there. All the men she kills deserve it, and Genevieve Bujold ("The House of Yes") shows up as a contemptable therapist. The Eye himself is rather a sympathetic character at first, but then he does something so horribly, horribly wrong that we can't feel any sympathy for him whatsoever. The second flaw is the film's so called ending. It simply leaves the audience completely befuddled. The film literally stops in mid-scene without resolving anything. "Eye of the Beholder" runs a long 109 minutes, and I would recommend catching a matinee if you can. I give it three and a half out of five stars.

Copyright 1999 John Beachem

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