Eye of the Beholder Review
By Joe Lozito
There's something strange about watching a film as startlingly bad as "Eye of the Beholder". It's a feeling of betrayal. After coming to know and love its stars (Ashley Judd and Ewan McGregor) and gaining respect for it's writer-director (Stephan Elliot, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), you expect to be treated well. It's analogous to the feeling of having a family doctor referred to you. Though you don't know exactly what to expect, the doctor surely knows what he or she is doing.
Unfortunately, "Eye of the Beholder," a wanna-be Hitchcockian psychological thriller, is a quack.
The dialogue is universally stiff and the plot - what there is of one - is frustratingly unfocused and meandering. Mr. McGregor plays "The Eye," one of these nebulous movie-spies with lots of gadgetry but very little relation to the real world. The Eye is quite literally haunted by the past, in the form of an annoying vision of the little girl he believes to be his daughter. While The Eye is on the trail of Joanna Eris (iris, get it?), a sociopathic serial killer, he hears her cry out to her father. Through the wonders of pop psychology, something snaps The Eye's mind and he becomes obsessed with following her. The rest of the film jets aimlessly from major city to major city before ending in a painfully contrived sequence in Alaska. It's almost as if the writer was throwing darts at a U.S. map.
Ms. Judd plays Joanna as a standard issue ice-queen, which is not the best type of role for her. Ms. Judd is much better as the underdog heroine (Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy). Stuck in a one-note role with little chance of escape, she arches one eyebrow and registers little other expression - except for the odd tearful outburst. By the same token, Mr. McGregor plumbs new depths of stoicism, playing The Eye as a kind of British Clint Eastwood. There is none of his wily "Trainspotting" character here, or even his spunky Jedi from "The Phantom Menace".
There is little else on display here. k.d. lang is in the movie, for what it's worth. And Mr. Elliot has an apparent affinity for snow globes. It is not possible to enjoy a film in which the law is so egregiously stupid. The serial killing that is done in "Eye" should be stopped immediately. The killer is not smart. The audience ends up rooting for the police to put a stop to all this.
It is worth noting that this film was originally made in 1998, before Mr. McGregor and Ms. Judd achieved the success that is now afforded them. If these two actors had not found other, finer films to star in, it is possible that this "Eye" would have remained closed. And that would have been just fine.