I’m starting to question how I considered myself a big fan of Joss Whedon as I watch more films penned by him and slowly I find myself unimpressed. The Cabin in the Woods being a rather recent example for as much as I like the idea it presented it still lacks in terms of the delivery of its satire for it takes far too long to get there. I’ve grown up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I only saw all of Firefly last year – but his film work seems to pale by comparison and In Your Eyes adds more to that streak of disappointment. A plethora of Peter Gabriel jokes could be made on the spot but I’m not wasting my time on such because the song of the same name isn’t even used in the film once.
Starring Zoe Kazan, the adorable presence who wrote and starred as the eponymous Ruby Sparks, In Your Eyes is yet another romantic entry on her end but not in the gleefully delightful manner that Ruby Sparks was for the good amount of its running time but instead one that enters the paranormal. Conceptually, like Ruby Sparks it’s an interesting one but where said film managed to at least deliver in terms of how dark it could reach when said film moves along further, In Your Eyes feels more like a film that seems to rely on its concept alone to sustain one’s interest and at that it just sets itself up for disaster.
The biggest problem with In Your Eyes unfortunately rises with the concept for it only feels like an idea that lingers but is never explored properly as the good lot of the film feels as if it carries upon exposition rather than proper exploration. It’s one thing to have exposition that would at least add more context to what goes on but rather than such it only tiptoes around possibility, stinting interest in where the central romance develops. Instead what we are left with is just an unnatural bond of chemistry between its two leads, Rebecca and Dylan that never feels convincing enough. It’s interesting enough to see how they both feel what the other feels but the problem therein lies with how little emotion both characters ever really display, killing any interest.
As always, Zoe Kazan is adorable with what material she is given but she has already shown herself as a reliable presence to carry the film inside of her performance which is amongst the most impressive aspects coming out of the work alongside the cinematography and the eerie score. Yet it’s surprising that for how Zoe Kazan is trying to carry weight with her role, the character whom she is playing has so little depth all throughout and one of Joss Whedon’s worst tendencies comes about: his writing only going for a “clever” approach rather than an interesting one. Subtlety begins to fall apart from there onward and a dedicated performance from a reliable actress only comes off as unnatural.
What’s even more frustrating about In Your Eyes is that it’s a bag of ideas that never really go anywhere and for how Joss Whedon at least attempts even without success (i.e. The Cabin in the Woods) there’s a sense of subversion that can come about and this doesn’t even feel like one such effort. Sure, it contains some of his wit that defined his writing but it doesn’t contain anything much beyond the overdone exposition of its premise because even with what evidently can come off as goofy in the idea, it seems to move about like an ordinary romance film with the most familiar arcs: falling in love and meeting togetherness and fate right on the same spot. So much more could be done especially when we have ideas of what Rebecca and Dylan’s pasts have been like but never does the film feel as if it wants to head down there.
Knowing what more could have been done with the idea it only surprises me this came from Joss Whedon’s pen out of everything. It carries many of his traits but with lacklustre direction coming about only the worst tendencies get their room to breathe. If something at least could make this worth watching, I’d have to say it would be within Zoe Kazan but take it only from someone who’s fallen soft for her after what she had left behind in Ruby Sparks. That having been said if one is seeking a high concept romance that stars her, you’re better off watching what Ruby Sparks gives because even if it isn’t completely fulfilling, it keeps enough interest for it never feels afraid to take a different turn: whereas In Your Eyes just isn’t even confident enough to go into the idea by weaving through exposition.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Bellweather Pictures.
Directed by Brin Hill
Screenplay by Joss Whedon
Produced by Kai Cole, Michael Roiff
Starring Zoe Kazan, Michael Stahl-David, Nikki Reed
Release Year: 2014