Rated R - Running Time: 1:41 - Released 1/28/00

I've not read the novel Eye Of The Beholder by Marc Behm, but if it's anything like the movie, it escapes me why writer/director Stephan Elliott chose to make it into a film. If it isn't, then Behm must be very upset with Elliott by now. The film is a cinematic mess, and marks a serious career misstep for both those gentlemen, not to mention its stars, Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd.

McGregor plays "The Eye," a British private investigator obsessed with beautiful, young Joanna (Judd), even though he regularly witnesses her murdering men. He does this by chasing her around the U.S. and spying on her with high-tech surveillance equipment. Whenever she dashes off to a new location (usually right after offing somebody), he quickly gets on the same plane/train/bus and follows her there, somehow arriving early enough to rig up a complex system of cameras and microphones in her hotel room without her knowing it. Then he sits in his car and watches her on his laptop computer. Until she kills some guy and leaves.

To be fair, these two apparently have reason for being so flaky. Joanna's father disappeared when she was a little girl, leaving her with a severe case of separation anxiety and an apparent lack of trust in men. When she is alone with a man, she seduces and kills him before he can hurt her. Or something. Meanwhile, The Eye lost his young daughter when his ex-wife left him, so he is plagued by visions of a young girl telling him what to do, but never trusting him to do what she asks. Or something. Needless to say, the cops are after Joanna, but every time they start to close in, Eye creates a diversion and she escapes.

I'm sure Ewan McGregor is secure in his future; after all, he's slated to perform in the upcoming Star Wars episodes, and we know his character doesn't die — he grows up to be Alec Guinness. But I think he must have realized this film wasn't such a good idea when he was fishing pubic hairs out of Judd's bathtub. Every career has a low point. As for Judd, she's a talented actress on a bad streak. I thought Double Jeopardy was insipid, but . . . if she doesn't start picking her projects more carefully, she's going to have to go back to cleaning Wynonna's van. Also appearing in this film is k.d. lang as the Eye's connection to the investigative firm. Why an American country music star with an aversion to capital letters would be cast as a British agent is beyond me, but lang shows no sense of being British anyway. All she has to do is sit at a computer console with a headset on and act like an affectionate telephone operator. She can't even do that convincingly.

As if to make up for the disjointed quality of the story, director Elliott has incorporated various themes into the film, such as the repetitive use of snow globes, angel statues, and astrology. But unfortunately, these things only pretty up a bad picture.

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

See Current Reviews

See FilmQuips Archive