Atmospherics trump story in EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, starring Ashley Judd in
a hodgepodge of silly wigs. Writer/director Stephan Elliott (THE
ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT), who appears to have
studied at the Oliver Stone School of Theatrics, devotes all of his
energy to the picture's look, leaving no time for storytelling. The
resulting mess is a muddled and befuddled film that makes Judd's last
picture, the critically derided DOUBLE JEOPARDY, look like a cinematic
masterpiece in comparison.
Pulling out all of the tired, old clichés and trying to invent a few new
ones, Elliott gives us an ant's-eye view of walking feet in one scene
and lots of flashing lightning in another. His staging choices never
consider issues of plausibility. Would-be undercover cops keep going in
tandem to a crowded diner but never remove their sunglasses indoors.
And big plate glass windows attract naked fornicators like flies to
As the boyish snoop known as The Eye, Ewan McGregor (THE PHANTOM MENACE)
gives a dense and impenetrable performance. Actually none of the cast
manage anything approaching a decent performance. Given Elliott's
bizarre direction, maybe the actors shouldn't be criticized too harshly.
Still, if you are one of their fans, you'll be grimacing a lot.
Joanna (Judd) is a serial killer. The Eye, who works for a secretive --
is there any other? -- government agency, is trailing her using a
variety of technical gadgets. His weapon of choice is a rifle with a
hunting scope and a super-sensitive listening device. It also fires
bullets when necessary. The Eye is accompanied by his missing daughter,
who may or may not be dead. They have long conversations, not that
The illogical and choppy script reminds one of a story told by a
rambling first-grade student. Sometimes The Eye seems to be trying to
stop Joanna, sometimes he seems to be falling in love with her and at
other times he acts likes a compulsive voyeur who just can't stop
Some movies are frustrating because you can't figure out where they are
heading. EYE OF THE BEHOLDER is even more infuriating because you
realize that, not only do you have no idea where it's going, you don't
Are there any interesting parts to this putative thriller? I counted
two. Once, when I closed my eyes, which I should have done more often,
I realized how nice the music was when the ridiculousness of the visuals
didn't intrude. The other, a bit of eye candy, occurs during a bath
scene at a hotel. As Joanna lies naked in a bubble bath, The Eye
fondles the smooth tile on the other side of the wall in his room. For
Judd's many adoring male fans, the scene provides an apt metaphor for
their perpetually unrequited love.
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER runs 1:47. It is rated R for some strong violence,
sexuality, language and brief drug content. The picture would be
acceptable only for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes