Saturday 12 August 2017

Movie Review: In Your Eyes (2014)

A romance fantasy, In Your Eyes delves into what makes two people connect while touching on issues of mental illness and loneliness.

As a child, Dylan Kershaw physically experienced a sledding accident through the eyes of Rebecca Porter, who crashed into a tree. More than twenty years later Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) is on parole having just been released from a stint in prison for theft. He lives in a ramshackle mobile home in rural New Mexico. Suddenly he mentally connects with Rebecca (Zoe Kazan), who is in New Hampshire and married to Phillip (Mark Feuerstein), a respected doctor.

Through telepathy Dylan and Rebecca can talk and physically share experiences. They realize that they have been sharing experiences throughout their lives. They start to regularly chat and get to know each other, behaviour which leads to a blossoming romance and accusations of mental illness. Rebecca tries to help Dylan survive a date with local girl Donna (Nikki Reed), as he fends off pressure from his past criminal associates. Meanwhile he learns that Rebecca has a history of mental trauma, with the career-driven Phillip playing the complex role of saviour, lover and protector.

Written by Joss Whedon and directed by Brin Hill, In Your Eyes offers a hypnotically original perspective on romance. Echoing other together-but-apart efforts such as The Lake House, In Your Eyes goes further, toying with the external symptoms of schizophrenia, and asking what crazy in love actually means when two people connect at the deepest level and effectively become one.

It's a mesmerizing premise, and Hill paces the film with great beauty. The connection is established early, allowing the theme to develop first with intrigue, then with depth, followed by romance and physical intimacy (think phone sex without the phone), and then jealousy and even the lovers' quarrel. All the time Dylan and Rebecca are dealing with the outside world observing their increasingly bizarre behaviour as they talk to themselves with increasing comfort.

In order to work the film requires fully committed performances, and both Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David deliver. Acting opposite each other but alone, they smoothly slip into the mindspace occupied by somewhere else and believably function within two realities. Kazan, in particular, is captivating as she gradually reveals Rebecca's anguish, her physical mannerisms always hinting at a woman struggling against something not quite right despite being surrounded by all the modern trappings of success.

The ending could have gone in many different directions, and the choice made is perhaps slightly less brave than the rest of the film. But In Your Eyes is a gem of a romance, a subtle and gentle exploration of infatuation and the magical bonds that merge two into one.

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