Film Review: All I See Is You

Visually striking thriller about a blind woman who regains her sight and then loses it again quickly becomes predictable.
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Blindness as literal (and metaphorical) condition has been a source of endless fascination to filmmakers as long as they’ve been making movies. City Lights, A Patch of Blue, Wait Until Dark and Scent of a Woman are just a few; who’s blind and how others respond to him/her also hint at cultural attitudes towards class, race and gender.

It’s highly unlikely, for example, that a film like Wait Until Dark would be made today with its blind heroine who can’t defend herself against impending danger and needs to be rescued. To see or not to see can also be interpreted philosophically, existentially (and that doesn’t change much with era). Think Oedipus or King Lear.

On a far more modest scale, last spring there was Ido Fluk’s The Ticket, a strange little morality tale that traced a blind man’s metamorphosis as he regains his vision and loses it again. The concept of “sight” indeed had lofty meanings in that one.

Now director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Solace, Finding Neverland) has entered the fray with All I See Is You, a true puzzler. The stunning cinematographic imagery, intended to mirror the blind gal’s experience, evokes a sinister psychedelic trip. But the Forster-Sean Conway screenplay, while mildly engaging, is ultimately pedestrian.

Forster would like the medium to be the message. Regrettably, the shimmering shadows, blackouts and photographic abstractions—not to mention the hallucinatory sound design—are far more interesting than the drama itself. Arguably, the narrative needs lots of enhancing, if not obfuscation.

As a youngster in Barcelona, Gina (Blake Lively) was blinded in a horrific car crash that killed her parents. Now, decades down the road, she lives in Bangkok with her attentive and adoring husband, James (Jason Clarke). who works as an insurance salesman. Though their sex life is hot and heavy, she’s totally dependent on him and still suffers from nightmarish flashbacks of the crash. But things are about to change. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, she undergoes an experimental corneal transplant and regains some sight in one eye. But all is not well, as she grows critical. Neither their apartment nor, more to the point, James is as appealing as she thought when she was blind.

Keenly aware that Gina is moving away from him, James attempts to keep her engaged by taking her to the colorful flower market (which she can now see) and even arranges a trip back to their honeymoon suite in Barcelona. Though Gina was blind at the time, she knows the room they’re in is much nicer than the original. Jason is forced to admit that he upgraded the suite in order to please her. It has the reverse effect.

All his well-intentioned plans have an equally unsettling impact on both of them. In Barcelona, Gina gets to see her sister Carol (Ahna O'Reilly) and meet Carol’s sexually unfettered husband Ramon (Miguel Fernández), who takes them through the more garish and grotesque back streets that includes a visit to a graphic peep show. The Barcelona trip also gives Gina the opportunity to revisit the scene of the accident. One assumes it’s to confront the past in order to experience closure (yep, that one again). Either way, it has no bearing on much of anything short of becoming one of many ominous occurrences in Barcelona.

Bangkok, their exotic home base, grows increasingly menacing too. Gina has an extramarital affair that her husband uncovers, she adopts a dog who disappears, and she’s slowly losing her sight. Is her eye rejecting the transplant, is her husband tampering with her medication, and what role, if any, is Gina playing in all of this?

The end is predictable and you see it coming a mile away. Still, some of the spooky visuals, compliments of cinematographer Matthias Koenigswieser, linger and the performances are serviceable enough. Lively is credible as a woman evolving as she sees the world in a new light and Clarke is appropriately threatening.

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