Loneliness can be your lot
And leave you empty and distraught,
Even when alone you’re not
In daily life’s ordeal.
For life seems like an afterthought
When no one else knows how you feel.
But then the loneliness can fade,
No longer stressed, no more afraid,
When love more real cuts through charade,
And lonely souls are paired.
For newer joys are worth the trade
When feelings, thoughts, and love are shared.
MPAA rating: Not Rated (could have been PG-13, but more R due to periodic profanity and some sensuality)
I chose In Your Eyes as one of my Blindspots because of the positive reviews I’d seen from some of my fellow bloggers, and my interest was further piqued by comparisons to last year’s anime hit Your Name. Whereas Your Name involves two strangers actually switching bodies, In Your Eyes features a telepathic (or more accurately, empathic) link between two random people on opposite sides of the country. Based on a decades-in-the-making screenplay by Joss Whedon and directed by Brin Hill, this supernatural romance certainly has its odd parts but incorporates a lot of what I love about the genre.
The two leads are played by Cloverfield’s Michael Stahl-David and Ruby Sparks’ Zoe Kazan, the former as a New Mexico parolee named Dylan and the latter as a New Hampshire trophy wife named Rebecca. Little do they know that they have shared a mental link since childhood, when one’s sledding accident somehow affected them both, but suddenly, it becomes strong enough to allow them to converse with each other and see what the other is seeing. I was a bit annoyed at first that there was no explanation or trigger to the sudden strengthening of their bond, aside from “Why not?” But then I recalled that Your Name didn’t have a very clear reason either, so it’s perhaps best to just roll with it since these cosmic movie connections are hard to clarify in reality.
Despite being separated for most of the film, Kazan and Stahl-David have engaging chemistry to spare. Their long-distance conversations feel natural to us since it’s as if they’re talking on the phone, but to everyone else, it looks like they’re talking to themselves or suffering bizarre outbursts that elicit worry and sideways glances from those nearby. (My VC actually thought it was stupid that they kept talking to each other out loud with no thought to how crazy they looked to others.) As with Taki and Mitsuha in Your Name, they learn a lot about each other, from past stresses to present foibles, through the rare opportunity of vicariously witnessing the other’s life. I especially liked how one tends to comment on what’s happening to the other, a voice in the head they have to try to ignore, like the hologram Al from Quantum Leap.
Also worth noting are the direction and cinematography, which infuse many scenes with a luminous quality that enhances the enchantment of their unusual bond. The contrasting settings also heighten the distance between them, from Dylan’s orange desert to Rebecca’s blue-tinged snowscapes. The editing does well in visualizing their shared feelings, culminating in a bizarre but sensual bedroom scene. (Is there even a word for that? Long-distance intimacy?)
As much as I enjoyed both the romance and fantasy aspects, I must admit I didn’t love In Your Eyes quite as much as I’d hoped. It isn’t just the lack of explanation or the oddness of the very concept. The climax builds to a satisfying final scene, but all the events leading up to it are left open-ended, making me think there will be lots of unaddressed bumps on the road to a happy ending. Plus, as good as In Your Eyes is, I think Your Name did a similar story better, just as it did with The Lake House. Even so, In Your Eyes deserves a lot more attention than the few bloggers who have tried to promote it. For any fan of unorthodox romance or extramundane relationships, it’s definitely worth your time.
Best line: (Rebecca, realizing who she’s talking to the first time) “Wait, you’re real. You’re a real person!” (Dylan) “Oh, that’s the sweetest thing anybody’s said to me all day.”
Rank: List Runner-Up
© 2017 S.G. Liput
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