Directed by Brin Hill (Won’t Back Down), this indie romance lacked the vision, development, and execution that would have otherwise mirrored its notably creative writer and executive producer, Joss Whedon. A story of star-crossed lovers, Dylan, played by Michael Stahl-David, and Rebecca, played by Zoe Kazan, discover that they have an intense telekinetic connection that begins from their early childhoods. Through this rare situation, the two experience a different, difficult type of love that tests their boundaries, strengths, and faith, and the loyalty of those around them.
I heartily believe that the bulk of this movie’s success is carried on the backs of its leading actors. Michael Stahl-David and Zoe Kazan’s chemistry is evident, even though they only have fifty-six seconds of screen time together. This chemistry brings to life the movie’s overall tone, one that is somber yet hopeful in the face of abuse and ill fates. As two lonely and isolated souls, they find comfort and empathy with the simple sound of each other’s voice. Their emotion, whether together on-screen or not, is palpable make up for where the technicalities fall short.
Although the lighting, with the difference in hues representing either Dylan or Rebecca’s perspectives, plays a visually significant role, the cinematography falters with confusing angles and an odd mixture of steadicam and queasicam in a single scene. In addition the editing and pacing of the story are inconsistent and in desperate need of direction, all of which inevitably take away from potentially powerful moments.
With all that, though, the imbalance of character development is what disappoints me the most. Instead of two evenly conflicted characters that eventually find strength and victory, we have one very conflicted and absolutely beaten down character (Rebecca) that’s constantly victimized, and a diluted bad boy (Dylan) who seems like the movie’s only hero. As an example, the worst romantic situation we see Dylan in is a date gone wrong; the worst situation we see Rebecca in is an emotionally abusive, misogynistic husband who belittles her and tries to wipe away her identity. Not really even, is it?
With years of writing experience under his belt, I was definitely expecting a more abstract and intriguing plot with complex characters from Wheden, not the knight in shining armor/helpless damsel in distress trope that left me feeling unsatisfied and indifferent.
Overall, In Your Eyes had great potential to be an incredibly interesting and unique movie. The creative possibilities with the cinematography, editing, writing, and directing were grossly untapped and therefore led to an unfulfilling ending.
Despite its inefficient storytelling, however, this movie reminds me of the excitement involved in finding a new, or first, love. It’s told well enough to encourage the audience to think of the different types of love that exist, or could exist, and the many layers that come with them. So if you can get over the technicalities and want to rekindle your love for love, or if you’re just looking for a romance movie to watch one rainy night, then this is it.