Despite the concept being moderately interesting, poor and straightforward execution renders the film mostly ineffective.
In Your Eyes
I’m not going to lie, the primary reason In Your Eyes caught my attention is that Joss Whedon wrote and produced the film. And I’m guessing I’m not alone. Whedon began earning fans many years ago with his high-concept sci-fi television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Serenity. Then he made The Avengers. His Marvel Comics film was a massive commercial success (reaching the third all-time highest grossing film at the box office), quickly cementing himself as one of Hollywood’s most powerful directors. Sadly, In Your Eyes is a disappointing melodrama, featuring a decent concept that gets compromised by a generic and familiar love story.
In Your Eyes begins with a young girl named Rebecca clinging her sled tightly as she studies the snowy New Hampshire hill with great focus. It’s apparent something bad is about to happen when the overly dramatic score kicks in right as her mother pleads for her to be careful. As she races down the hill, the film jumps to a boy clutching his desk at school. Suddenly he can somehow see exactly what she does. When her sled slams into a tree, they simultaneously get knocked unconscious. These two characters don’t share the inexplicable psychic connection again until twenty years later.
The film removes the soft focus filter to indicate present day, reintroducing the characters as adults now. Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) is an ex-convict who lives in a trailer home in the New Mexico desert, while Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) is unhappily married to a wealthy doctor in New Hampshire. On a random afternoon, their strange connection suddenly comes back, allowing them to see through each other’s eyes once again. As an added bonus, the two are now also able to talk to each other. Without really questioning these powers, the two soon become best friends and engage in flirtatious conversations. It’s easy to guess what happens next.
The running joke of the film is how others react to these two talking out loud to “themselves” in public. This is funny the first couple of times, especially when Rebecca interrupts Dylan’s romantic date with another woman, but the gig gets old pretty fast. When others catch them talking out loud, they often grab their phone to pretend they’re having a conversation on the phone. Because cell phones do exist in their world, I wondered why they didn’t just call each other, instead of looking like weirdos to everyone. Perhaps to save minutes on their cell phone plans?
Admittedly, trying to justify the logistics of the film is pointless. Regardless of how (or why) these two are able to communicate, the concept of a long-distance relationship between two people who’ve never met is enchanting and relevant. While films like Spike Jonze’s Her depict falling in love with someone you’ve never met more effectively, In Your Eyes does a good job exploring how love knows no bounds.
Despite the concept being moderately interesting, poor and straightforward execution renders In Your Eyes mostly ineffective. Many lines in the film are delivered unnaturally, making the dialogue sound painfully awkward and sometimes downright cringe-worthy. Also, the film never really feels like a true Whedon production. By establishing all the metaphysical fantasy elements at the beginning, the storyline eliminates all surprises by taking the safest and most predictable route the rest of the way. Therefore, the story lacks the fresh Whedon spin we typically receive from him. Unlike his other work, In Your Eyes consists of a dull, vulnerable, and powerless role for the lead female, and that’s highly disappointing.