Cinema-goers will undoubtedly be drawn to Julia’s Eyes by the names attached to it – Guillermo del Toro (director of Pans Labyrinth), actress Belén Rueda and production company Rodar y Rodar, all of whom made their previous film, The Orphanage, a resounding success.
Cinema-goers will undoubtedly be drawn to Julia’s Eyes by the names attached to it – Guillermo del Toro (director of Pans Labyrinth), actress Belén Rueda and production company Rodar y Rodar, all of whom made their previous film, The Orphanage, a resounding success. Back doing what we have come to expect from them, Julia’s Eyes is a stylish thriller, directed by Guillem Morales, about a woman, Julia (Rueda), trying to discover the truth about her sister Sara’s (also played by Rueda) death. However, her sight is fading due to a genetic eye condition; the same condition that caused her sister to supposedly take her own life.
Setting the tone and some of the many – possibly too many – themes in the film, Julia’s Eyes, opens with the sexily dressed Sara – now completely blind – stumbling around her darkened house. A man she apparently knows lurks in the shadows watching as she threatens to take her own life by hanging and – in case she had any doubts – kicks the stool from beneath her feet. Thus Julia and her husband, Isaac (Lluís Homar), find the twin sister hanged in her basement. Not convinced of her sister suicide Julia sets out to find the truth. In doing so she uncovers a secret life, including a so-called secret boyfriend that, despite seeing, no one can describe – “You know, some people you just don’t see,” says a waiter at a hotel where Sara and this boyfriend dined. Soon, through her quest for the truth Julia’s own life begins to fall apart mirroring that of her sisters.
Despite a promising and plausible start Julia’s Eyes strays into typical unbelievable horror movie territory. You’ll want to scream at Julia for her idiotic decisions so clearly set up as a catalyst for the next shocking incident in the film; for example, why would Julia move into her sister’s former dwelling – while disabled by a post-op blindfold – where there is a good chance this unidentifiable figure has access and is most probably watching?
Julia’s Eyes’ saving grace is Morales’s inventive camera work and his ability to create suspense and shock us when we least expect it. Frequently we see through Julia’s fading vision, we see flashes of violence through the blink of her shocked and frightened eyes, we never see her post-op carer’s face – just as she can’t causing us to mistrust him, along with many others, and Morales uses her blindness to set-up increasingly uncomfortable situations.
Nevertheless, Julia’s Eyes loses it by the third part. The introduction of unnecessary and implausible plot lines only serves to ruin its already shaky credibility and drag the plot along for another needless twenty minutes. Therefore the conclusion takes it’s time to arrive and when it does – although visually spectacular – is dissatisfying.
The tragedy of Julia’s Eyes is that it could easily have been so much better with a few overcrowding and implausible elements removed. Otherwise, all the traits of we have expect from this Spanish film making trio are in place – Hitchcockian suspense, outstanding acting from Belén Rueda, inventive cinematography and a strong female protagonist.