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With: Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd, Patrick Bergin, k.d. lang, Jason Priestley, Genevi�ve Bujold
Written by: Stephan Elliott, based on a novel by Marc Behm
Directed by: Stephan Elliott
MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence, sexuality, language and brief drug content
Running Time: 109
Date: 08/28/1999

Eye of the Beholder (2000)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Watching the Inside of My Eyelids

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

"If nothing happens by the end of the first reel, nothing's going to happen." That's one of Roger Ebert's movie rules, and holds true for the new film Eye of the Beholder.

Written and directed by Stephan Elliot (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), Eye of the Beholder starts off with an English spy played by Ewan McGregor, who is called "The Eye" in the press notes, but I can't remember anyone actually calling him that onscreen. He gets a computer transmission from k.d. lang, who hires him to follow a 22 year-old kid who is embezzling money from his father's trust fund. So far so good. McGregor follows the kid to a museum, where he picks up the dazzling Joanna Eris (get it? Eris? Iris? Eye?), played by Ashley Judd. They go back to his place and Eris kills him. So The Eye follows Eris for the rest of the movie. Sometimes she kills guys, sometimes not. But she doesn't seem to remember anything or to have any purpose. At one point, The Eye sneaks into a hospital room where Eris is sleeping and puts a ring on her finger. He also visits a former "teacher" of hers (Genevieve Bujold) who instructed her on how to disappear and to take care of herself. And, for the first half of the film, The Eye is occasionally visited by the ghost of his little daughter. Does any of this make sense to you? Well, I've actually seen the film and thought about it and I'm still lost.

Eye of the Beholder contains a lot of mysterious dialogue. Some conversations in the film have to do with fathers and daughters. One discussion between Eris and Gary (Jason Priestley) is about sharks only having 2 minutes of memory and having to constantly move forward. So we're left with either: a) that Eris is somehow like the shark, b) that Eris may actually be The Eye's wife, c) that Eris may actually be The Eye's daughter, or d) some other unknown conclusion. I was actually expecting some kind of explosive payoff that would tie everything together, but there wasn't any. The story just kind of ends.

Despite the nonsensical plot the movie has a striking visual style. The story moves with The Eye through cities all over the world (including San Francisco) but all of them look like, and actually are, Montreal, Canada. And snow globes (those things where you shake them up and it snows inside) are used as transitional devices to get from city to city. It seems that The Eye used to buy them for his daughter and now collects them. There's even a scene where the characters are shown to be walking around inside a giant snow globe.

Eye of the Beholder sat on the shelf for two years before this release. It was picked up by the budding distributor Destination Films, who brought us Bats last fall. They were no doubt hoping to catch a little of the enthusiasm from the stars' recent roles in Double Jeopardy and The Phantom Menace. But, take my word for it, this movie is going to disappear in a week. The unlucky folks who see it are going to tell everyone else to stay away, as I'm doing for you now.

(NOTE: During one scene, some characters take a break by watching a video of Roger Corman's great 1960 The Wasp Woman. I suggest you do the same.){subid}&url=hitlist.asp?searchfield=marvel
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