December 7, 2015

filmsgraded.com:
Eye of the Beholder (1999)
Grade: 41/100

Director: Stephan Elliott
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Ashley Judd, k.d. lang

What it's about. Ewan McGregor is a detective on the payroll of some governmental agency. He stalks his targets, takes photographs, and uploads them his contact, k.d. lang. He is assigned to embezzler Steven McCarthy, and soon learns that he is involved with femme fatale Ashley Judd. Judd murders McCarthy, deep-sixes the body in a lake, and skips town. Instead of turning her in, McGregor follows her from city to city, collecting snow globes for his imaginary post-toddler daughter (played by twins Anne-Marie and Kaitlin Brown) and spying on her as she kills more people (David Nerman and Don Jordan).

Finally, it appears that Judd is willing to settle down with wealthy blind man Patrick Bergin. This upsets McGregor, who manages to stop their wedding by causing Bergin's death in a car accident. Then, Judd is nearly murdered herself by bizarre drug addict Jason Priestley. McGregor intervenes again in Judd's favor. She escapes, and ends up as a waitress in an Alaskan diner.

Because it is a movie, McGregor manages to locate her, shortly before the Feds do so. McGregor drives the getaway car for her to avoid an arrest, as well as an embarrassing reunion with her lesbian parole officer Geneviéve Bujold.

How others will see it. When will this movie end? This familiar feeling, of boredom and indifference, has washed over far too many viewers of Eye of the Beholder, myself included. The negative reaction most have to the movie is partly due to its achingly slow pace, but also its lack of morality. Here we have a serial killer and thief protected by another murderer (Patrick Bergin and probably Jason Priestley) because he is obsessed with her.

The film does have a small cult following. But the box office turkey has a miserable user rating of 4.9 at imdb.com. U.S. viewers grade it even lower (4.4). Apparently, young European women are the demographic most likely to appreciate this film, or perhaps men who share Ewan McGregor's romantic attraction to the prettiest Judd sister.

How I felt about it. As femme fatales go, Judd isn't very clever. For example, she murders a police man in her own hotel suite, when it would have been much smarter merely to have sex with him and check out of her room the next morning. She murders another man for an opal that will fund her costly lifestyle for at perhaps a week or two. Another man is murdered with the room well-lit and the curtains drawn wide open. How does this woman escape Federal prison?

It turns out that she does so thanks to her stalker, Ewan McGregor, who never seems to run out of money and never gets arrested for his activities, despite constantly wearing a conspicuous red coat. McGregor is tormented by an imaginary little girl, representative of his own daughter that he apparently has hardly met, since he can't recognize her in a photograph.

Some would say that the movie should be meant as surreal, something like O Lucky Man! (1973) that obviously is not intended to be interpreted as a linear, credible story. If so, it is not surreal enough to accomplish that aim. We conclude that both McGregor and Judd should receive life imprisonment, in separate prisons, and are disappointed (but not surprised) that the film cheats us out of that just desserts.

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