In Your Eyes (15)
Director: Brin Hill
Writer: Joss Whedon
Stars: Jennifer Grey, Nikki Reed & Steve Howey
Running time: 105 min
In the frozen East Coast winter, Rebeccais withering away in a life of cocktail parties and lonely nights as the sheltered, soft-spoken wife of a successful doctor. Across the country in sun-drenched, arid New Mexico, charismatic ex-con Dylan is struggling to find his footing and a fresh start. When these polar opposites realize they share an inexplicable connection, a unique metaphysical romance begins.
So there’s this guy, his name is Joss Whedon. He’s a writer of comics, a director of movies and a maker of music among many other things. He created Buffy and Firefly, made Shakespeare accessible to people who didn’t like him before and he made the highest grossing movie in the world that wasn’t a James Cameron movie. And he’s just released a new movie.
But don’t go rushing to another webpage (don’t leave me!!) to check your cinema listings because the new Joss Whedon movie isn’t actually in the cinema. The new movie is online at www.inyoureyesmovie.com and is available to rent for a three day period for the low sum of $5. Now that’s not €5 or even £5 or even 5 old Irish Punts. It’s available for $5, and it’s available (seemingly) without geographical restrictions and it’s available on pretty much any platform you choose to view it on. I’ve tried it out on my iMac and iPad and it’s worked fine on both.
The new movie, In Your Eyes, is the rather offbeat story of two people who, for some unexplained reason, develop the ability to see through each other’s eyes, and hear each other’s words, and then to feel what the other person is feeling physically. There’s no reason given and there’s no reason asked, it’s just a thing that happens. So let’s move on.
We first meet Rebecca and Daryl as kids the first time that they ‘connect’. We see pretty soon that Daryl is a good soul who gets lead astray pretty damn easily and that Rebecca is being domineered. Rebecca has a bit of an accident and Daryl, who is a good distance away, feels the accident.
Some twenty-odd years later, we meet Rebecca and Daryl again. Rebecca is married to a domineering doctor who does seem to care about her but cares more about his job and his appearance. Daryl is living in a (pretty decent but poorly cleaned) trailer out in the middle of nowhere after having done some time in prison, having been talked in to making some decisions that lead to places like prison. Both of them are trapped in the lives that they’ve found themselves in and can’t seem to get out. Sometimes making the best of the bad situation just seems easier than making a change and risking having even less. This is how we first find Rebecca and Daryl.
After a bit of time adjusting to the strange fact that they can suddenly see, hear and feel what the other person can, Rebecca and Daryl start improving their lives. Daryl cleans up his physical environment and Rebecca starts to enjoy her life more as she has someone in her life, or at least in her head, who genuinely is interested in what she has to say.
Daryl is played by Michael Stahl-David, an actor who has been in Cloverfield and The black Donnellys and some other things that I probably should have seen by now but haven’t. Rebecca is played by Zoe Kazan, who I have only encountered once before, as the title character in a wonderful movie called Ruby Sparks. Some of the other ancillary cast members I recognised from variosu places – including Dirty Dancing (nobody puts Baby in a corner), so I really didn’t know what to expect from an acting point of view. Being a Whedon fan for so long, I’ve become accustomed to seeing the same faces pop up in different roles again and again.
But much to my surprise and delight, Kazan and Stahl-David have the same chemistry together that Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof have. Which is one hell of an accomplishment considering the fact that they’re not actually together. The best scenes in the movie were scenes where Rebecca and Daryl were pretty much just talking to each other from different timezones and I don’t mind admitting that more than once I found myself having to fight back tears.
There’s a line in a Nathan Fillion movie called Waitress where the lead character says in a voice-over “I was addicted to saying things and having them matter to someone”. In a very real way, that’s what In Your Eyes is about. If you suddenly found yourself with another voice in your head, everything that they say would matter to you, especially if the other people in your life don’t really seem to have your best interests at heart or trust your integrity. And if there’s someone who can see you at your worst and at your best, complete honesty becomes easy and it also becomes addictive. It’s no surprise that Rebecca and Daryl fall in love. Unlike the Twilight movies, where the portrayal of love is all staring and bad wigs, you can see Daryl and Rebecca fall for each other bit by bit as they talk and discover each other and become brutally, brilliantly honest.
Armed with a great script and backed by a competent Director, Kazan and Stahl-David manage to carry the movie pretty much on their own. The other characters seem to be designed to portray how bad their lives actually are. Though in one case, Rebecca’s history with another character shows that the connection with Daryl was active on and off through their lives at different time.
The movie is let down slightly by a final act that’s more action than dialogue and let’s face it, the movie can only have a happy ending or a tragic one. I won’t ruin it by saying which one it is.
In Your Eyes is pretty much everything that I was hoping it would be. Two fantastic central performances, a great script and direction that doesn’t let different locations interfere all make for a great and unique movie and a pretty good investment for $5.