In Your Eyes Review
I discovered In Your Eyes quite by accident. On a lazy Sunday, I searched the Netflix library for a diversion. The film was a recommendation, proving that Netflix has definitely cracked my viewing pattern. Armed with absolutely no context and no idea what the film was about, I dove into In Your Eyes. The film is a curious delight. It’s funny, heartbreaking and romantic in turns.
The film explores the theme of connectedness with others, especially in a modern context.
Wait, you’re real. You’re a real person!
In Your Eyes is a thought-provoking paranormal romance starring Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David as strangely destined soulmates. Kazan plays Rebecca Porter, a young woman stifled by her perfect life with her perfect husband Phillip (Mark Feuerstein), living in their perfect home. Rebecca is “fragile” and Phillip, a doctor by profession, acts as both husband and caretaker. On the surface, their relationship seems idyllic. But it’s patently obvious that Phillip prefers to control his wife as Rebecca struggles to assert her independence.
Michael Stahl-David however, is Dylan Kershaw, a con on parole. He is unengaged, dissatisfied with his life and struggles to change his present circumstance. Living in a trailer in the New Mexico desert, he is barely able to hold down a job, despite being hounded by his parole officer. Dylan is alone, but he isn’t a loner. He longs for connection but has no one in his life to form a connection with.
One day, however, the unfathomable happens. Rebecca and Dylan connect psychically. He drives on a sun-drenched stretch of road and is transported to snow covered New Hampshire. Rebecca, in turn, feels the heat and can see the arid landscape. Initially, they both conclude they’re going crazy. But they are not. Inexplicably they recognize their shared, lifelong psychic connection.
Sometimes when I’m with you, I forget myself.
Rebecca and Dylan spend hours connecting and discovering all the ways they had impacted each other’s lives without realizing it. The intimacy of being able to feel, hear and experience each other’s thoughts and emotions heighten their bond and complicate their lives. Rebecca feels happy for the first time in years. Dylan finds purpose and meaning through his connection with her. But Rebecca is married and he is an ex-con with no real prospects. They are polar opposites and yet their psychological connection becomes the one thing that ties them to reality.
This Is Going To Be So Weird
Zoe Kazan is perfect as Rebecca. The character is vulnerable and soft-spoken in her performance. She is effortlessly able to convey her troubled emotional state, her uncomfortable marriage and her excitement at “meeting” someone who truly understands her. By contrast, Michael Stahl-David is sun-kissed and sweet, a veritable boy next door – which is in direct contradiction to his criminal past. I enjoyed watching Dylan find purpose through his shared connection with Rebecca. It’s not overt, but it’s an evolution that happens in a way that the character barely notices either.
I finally for once in my life… I could see something… real, and you tell me a gotta give it up, so how do you come at fair?
The film feels intimate and intense – which makes sense, considering the main characters spend a lot of time in the other’s head. Unfortunately, this makes the supporting cast fairly unnecessary. Outside of Dylan and Rebecca, no other character is developed. But truth be told however, it’s not really an issue. I am interested in Dylan and Rebecca. In Your Eyes is aware of that and doesn’t waste too much time on too many unnecessary detours.
Despite that, look out for Jennifer Grey (who you really might not even recognize) as well as Nikki Reed and Steve Harris.
I Can’t Play At This Anymore
This film is one of those little gems you always hope to discover when you press play on any film you’re not familiar with. And honestly, there were clues. Joss Whedon wrote In Your Eyes. To modern audiences, he directed The Avengers and is the creator of iconic characters like Buffy Summers and Captain Malcolm Reynolds. He is a thoughtful, witty, interesting writer and filmmaker and In Your Eyes is an example of his brilliance. The subtle humor, the troubled characters, the contradictions, the emotion and the romance. Whedon apparently wrote the script many years ago. While there are glimmers of his inexperience, there are more than enough highlights to forget it.
Sadly, a superfluous subplot involving Dylan’s undesirable friends constrains the film. Rebecca’s husband Phillip is also never more than a shady, controlling husband. Their relationship is underdeveloped and despite the argument against cheating, it’s not hard to understand Rebecca’s attraction towards Dylan. Yet all of this comes together with Whedon’s usual dose of quirk. Not everything makes sense, but by the end of the film, it doesn’t really matter.
You blew me away. You know that. I’m never gonna forget that.
In Your Eyes also deals with mental illness. The film tries to explore its’ impact on Rebecca’s life, but unfortunately, its entwined with Dylan and their psychological bond. The waters around cause and effect become a little murky as I wasn’t always sure whether it was her connection with Dylan that caused her fluctuating emotions, whether it was the control of her husband or whether, as the film also hints at, it actually runs in her family.
How Do You Expect Me To Just Shut You Off?
Overall, In Your Eyes is well worth a watch. It’s romantic and implausible, but also sweet, touching and emotional. The leads are convincing and vulnerable, able to forge a connection with the viewer. When Dylan says, “the best thing about myself – the only thing that I like – is you,” you believe him. At this point, you’re also rooting for the unlikely duo, despite the odds stacked against them.
Where to Watch: In Your Eyes is available for sale or to watch on DVD. It is available on Netflix US. In Your Eyes is also available for purchase or for rental on Amazon.
Content Note: In Your Eyes is NR but includes a couple of F-words and a couple of sex scenes.
Have you watched In Your Eyes? Did you find it romantic and fantastical at the same time? Comment below and let me know!
Photo Credit: Bellwether Pictures, Night and Day Pictures
“You had me at hello.”
“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My
feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me
to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”