BEHOLDER Fails To Involve Viewer
"I think weíre in a very strange time when too many movies have become big, dumb entertainment and audiences are beginning to retaliate, " declares Stephan Elliott, director of Eye of the Beholder. This Australian-born filmmaker believes that movies can still challenge the audience and "ask them to fill in the blanks."
Unfortunately, Elliottís latest effort contained too many blanks for me to fill in. Although confused about what was happening, I wasnít very curious about finding out. And, I didnít feel any sympathy for its brutal serial killer, played by gorgeous Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy). Abandoned by her father at an early age, this character appears to murder at random. Most of the time Judd wears stunning Valentino creations and looks absolutely fabulous, but none of this was enough to make me care about or understand the womanís psychotic behavior.
But guess what? A British intelligence agent (Ewan McGregor of The Phantom Menace) falls in love with her. Nicknamed The Eye, he uses all sorts of modern technology to keep track of the seductive killer. Soon he becomes her protector instead of her pursuer. Why, you ask? Well, first of all, take a look at Judd. Next, donít forget that the reclusive Eye might be crazy too. After all, unlike the youngster in Sixth Sense, he sees live people who arenít really there --- well, o.k., only his daughter (who was taken by his wife when she left him).
McGregor, an intriguing actor, almost pulls off this strange role. Too bad the artsy cinematography overwhelms his low-key performance. Still, in his few scenes with Judd, McGregor projects just the right combination of fear and excitement. Supporting cast members Genevieve Bujold (Coma), Patrick Bergin (Sleeping with the Enemy), and Jason Priestley (Beverly Hills 90210) do the best they can in the short time they are on screen. Bujold makes a convincing dominatrix-type counselor; Bergin is a sympathetic love-interest; and Priestley plays effectively against type as a cruel sadist.
Eye of the Beholder, based on the acclaimed novel by Marc Behm, takes moviegoers on a weird journey into obsession. Although camera gimmicks get in the way of good storytelling here, the film represents an ambitious undertaking for writer/director Elliott.
If you are interested in seeing more of his work, check out Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Welcome to Woop Woop, two wildly funny comedies, at your favorite video store.
(Released by Dimension Films and rated "R" for violence, nudity, strong language, and sexuality.)