Saturday, 21 May 2011

REVIEW: Julia's Eyes - Turn Around Bright Eyes

The Iberian horror renaissance looks set to continue with Los Ojos des Julia or Julia's Eyes to folks like you and me.  Optimum seem to have focused on the jumps and scares in marketing the movie, but in reality it is actually a tense thriller with an tremendous central performance by Belen Rueda.
Belen Rueda was hoping that her Derren Brown routine would get her out of making horror movies
Rueda plays identical twins Julia and Sara who both suffer from a degenerative eye disease that causes blindness.  When Sara apparently commits suicide, Julia suspects foul play and tries to solve the mystery with the begrudging help of her husband Isaac behind her death before her own eyesight fails.
Going into Julia's Eyes expectations were high as the last film to get the 'Guillermo Del Toro' presents above the title was the outstanding The Orphanage, which was one of my favourite films of 2008.
Julia might not be able to reach the dizzying heights of excellence as The Orphanage but director Guillem Morales certainly displays some talent behind the camera, creating a thriller that evokes a similar sense of blindness and helplessness that featured in Wait Until Dark starring Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman whose apartment is terrorised.  He uses various in-camera effects to give the audience a sense of Julia's deteriorating vision, frames the action is obscure peoples faces, and during the film's climax, features a sequence that takes a beat from Rear Window and cranks it up to 11.
It does feel a little too long however and the pacing could have been tightened up once the "invisible man" is revealed.  Plus there is epilogue that some will find far too schmaltzy compared to the tone of the rest of the film, but your acceptance of this will greatly depend on how much you buy into the central relationship between Julia and her husband.  Personally, in a couple of short scenes they provide a complete back story to their relationship and a convincing sense of true love.
As with The Orphanage, the film's true strength lies in Belen Rueda, once again delivering a performance that grounds the film in reality despite the weird going-ons and takes the audience along the journey with her.  The only fault I could find with her was that her impressive and ample bosum kept causing a distraction to me... but that is a problem I'm seeking help with!
Another welcome antidote to the generic thrillers and horrors that Hollywood are producing.  It will be on limited release so "see it while you can" - ha ha ha

4 stars

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