Eye of the Beholder

Released in 1999.

Director: Stephan Elliot

Staring: Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, The Phantom Menace), Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy, The Passion of Darkly Moon).

DVD Features: Director's comments on/off, language options, cast featurettes.

You'll know Stephan Elliot from his work writing and direction The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. He has accomplished something rather startling with this film that's likely to disappoint a fair number of people, based mainly on the fact that this is not, in fact, a suspense thriller.

The movie deals heavily with themes of numerology, fate, and the consequences of our actions.

Ewan McGregor plays Eye, a genius surveillance expert for an unnamed agency. From the importance he seems to command with the police, he has to be more than a casual private detective, and one suspects that he works under some government agency, but this is never made terribly clear.

Eye is pulled off of his current work to follow the Boss' son and discover whether he has been embezzling his trust fund. However, we soon find that his abandonment 7 years ago by his wife (and the daughter he has never seen) has driven him into a state of madness.

What perhaps is so interesting, at least to myself, about Eye's madness, is that he is aware of it. He has, in fact, created it himself as an element of his naturally obsessive focus. The daughter he has never seen follows him everywhere, talking to him, cajoling, demanding, alternately speaking from his conscience and his desire. Perhaps one of the most amazing scenes in the film occurs in the midst of an important surveillance operation as the girl appears in multiple places in the apartment at once, making a variety of different noises and singing in a quite marvellous piece of sound work.

The film is suffused with images of circles, of patterns, and the elements of numerology and fate. The characters can see what is coming clearly, yet are powerless to avoid their respective fates, and even seem eager to meet them.

The film style has certain elements reminiscent of the Wachowski brother's 1996 effort, Bound, in a manner of camera angles and juxtapositions.

The movie is, over all, quite beautiful, a dark poem if you will. If you watch this, watch it because the moods and images created therein are beautiful and captivating and stark...not because you need an action/suspense flick for a Friday night. This is a movie for examination and exploration, if you like that kind of thing.