Chaos Attraction

In Your Eyes Movie Review

2014-04-22, 3:35 p.m.

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My Easter weekend was lovely. Everyone was on good behavior and Mom didn't end up crying. Huzzah! We had the baby's birthday the day before Easter and everything went well. The baby is now a year old and totally adorable and charming and pretty much perfect. We spent the weekend going back and forth between my cousin's and my aunt's.

All was well, except for the part where Mom came down with some kind of mystery illness late Sunday night right as she was about to go home. She made it home, but ended up calling in sick on Monday. And let me tell you that in the family culture you do not call in sick unless you're like, completely unable to sit up or separate yourself from Mr. Toilet, so that's saying something. She called me at work and I did not recognize her voice, that's how bad it was....Let's not tell the relatives about this, I think. Oh yeah, and I got my Lizzie Bennet Diaries DVD's in the mail finally. Huzzah!


But let's move on from that topic, because I really want to discuss (i.e. pimp) In Your Eyes. As you perhaps know, I am a rabid Whedonite, so I was pleased to find out that Joss Whedon's new(?) movie was being released for online streaming rental at inyoureyesmovie.com.. Since Mondays are generally my free night this quarter, I decided to give watching it a shot. I wrote a super awesome review of this movie on my silly links TypePad blog, but TypePad was taking a crap again (which seems to be a thing lately) and I ended up writing this instead of linking to it. And now that blog is up again, so I can, but since I wrote this whole thing up, what the hell.

For the record: dear lord, was the streaming bad at 5:30 p.m. on release day. It probably took me most of an hour to get the thing going past the first minute. I eventually went looking for tips on whedonesque.com as to how to get around it. I eventually found that clicking off and on on the "HD" setting in the bottom right corner eventually made everything work just fine, somehow. But after that... I'm pretty much gonna spoil almost everything. So be forewarned.

Our main characters are Dylan and Rebecca. As a kid, Rebecca got into a sledding accident....and states away (presumably), Dylan felt it so hard he fell out of his chair and passed out in class unexpectedly. Since then they have (I'm guessing) intermittently picked up on the visions and bodily feelings of each other. However, in the movie it really starts to kick in after Dylan gets a surprise pounding in a bar and Rebecca is now the one to go shooting across the room during a dinner party, much to her husband's total embarrassment. Soon after that, they realize that they can hear the other one while talking--though they're not reading minds or traveling across time, just different time zones. (Hah.)

The two of them are pretty different. Dylan's a Southern ex-con petty criminal lockpicker in New Mexico (who's not allowed to leave the state) who's got a parole officer dropping by his crappy trailer in the desert, and a job at a car wash he finds to be boring. He debates going back into the criminal biz to get more money, his family can no longer stand him, and he's pretty awkward at trying to chat up the pretty lady in the bar. Oh yeah, and it seems like he's prone to getting into bar fights--or at least he's some kind of walking target for getting hit by dudes from behind. Doesn't sound like much of a winner, eh?

Rebecca's the fairly wealthy bird in a gilded cage, married to a pompous doctor and living the trophy wife life. Her mother had mental issues and Rebecca's been locked up in a mental institution before. Her husband Phillip is there to take care of her because she's so fragile and all that jazz....but he also picks on her for not being perfect enough at all of his hobnobbing dinner parties. Because when your wife suddenly gets injured out of nowhere at a dinner party, it just makes him look bad to be married to a weirdo, you know? Though to be fair to Phillip, I think anyone would think their wife was going off the deep end of sanity given how the plot is going.

But once they figure out they can somehow talk to each other with no phones, they end up hitting it off. Both of them hate their lives and are brutally lonely and have nobody decent to talk to for the most part. And when they start talking to each other, their eyes light up and they just start sparking. And this is something I really need to note to you guys: these two have whopping amounts of chemistry WITHOUT EVEN BEING ON SCREEN TOGETHER. I did finally find an article on how they managed to film all of the separate scenes and have them fit together so very well and naturally, because it's quite a trick. (The answer boils down to: the other person was hanging around within the furniture during filming!) Think of all of the shitty no-chemistry couples you've had to watch on television lately--Jack and Margaux on Revenge and Oliver and the Lance sisters on Arrow really come to mind for me. Now think that these people are adorable and making you care and steaming up the screen via simultaneous masturbation (yup, that happens, but it's tastefully done/not too porn-ish) while talking to nobody. I have to give whopping props to the actors and director for pulling this off, because I wouldn't have thought it was possible.

And there's something about spending their tedious boring days talking to each other that makes them want to live again. Both of them don't seem to care all that much about faking that they're on cell phones after awhile--Rebecca's chatting along while strolling through the grocery store and Dylan's running his mouth as he washes cars, both of them not giving much of a shit about their audience. (Note: according to the above linked article, this was originally written before cell phones, so that has something to do with it.) When Dylan's boss tells him to live in the now, I just wanted to say, "why would he want to?" The talking keeps them interested in their lives.

They also start helping each other out. There's a great scene in which Rebecca's Range Rover is having some kind of engine problem (which I don't recall well enough to be able to explain right now, sorry) that Dylan diagnoses as just being something she can easily adjust instead of spending $1200 on replacement repairs. Every girl who doesn't know much about cars can't help but enjoy the moment when Rebecca cheerfully says no to the mechanic, using technical terms and driving away. Later, she helps Dylan out by telling him how to ask out the bar girl he's been blowing it with by telling him stuff like compliment her outfit rather than her physical appearance. (This later leads to a foot fetish joke when Dylan blanks out and compliments her shoes for the second time, because it's Joss Whedon.) Her glee and excitement at this, and disappointment that he's scheduled the date on a night she has a boring dinner to attend, are so cute.

These two aren't Nick and Nora, and it's not an overly snarky movie, though Dylan makes the occasional crack here and there about having "benign cooties." There's some chuckles and fun going on, but overall you just get that they are enjoying the hell out of talking to each other, especially since they've got no one else they can trust and aren't too happy with their lives otherwise. Each makes the other a better person--she makes him want to be a better man--I hate to use the cliche but it works--and he makes her feel stronger.

But of course their public chatting starts to interfere with their crappy lives. Dylan loses his job for the public chatting--not that he cares overmuch about it. However, Rebecca's clearly in danger because everyone around her is scrutinizing her for crazy....and you can guess what happens then that suddenly motivates Dylan to break his parole and run to her rescue.( I am still wondering how the hell the guy somehow managed to catch a plane (without ID, apparently?!) to New Hampshire and how Rebecca was allowed to keep the laces in her shoes in the mental institution, though.). Though really, they're helping each other out even then--she's giving him directions while he drives and he tells her how to pick a lock with a fork! Didn't even know that was a thing to do. She ends up breaking herself out and punching her husband on the way out, and they end up meeting up on a train.

And as the Ninth Doctor said once upon a time, "Everybody lives!" Yes, this is a rare Joss Whedon property where NOBODY DIED, SERIOUSLY, NOBODY DIES. It's a happy ending, or as happy as one gets when you're fugitives on the run hoping to make it to Canada. I prefer to think that they will.

Plots this will remind you of:
* The TV show Awake, because clearly Dylan is living in an orange world and Rebecca is living in a blue one.
* Sleepless in Seattle because they don't meet until the end.
* The kid's book Being Of Two Minds, which I read and was REALLY reminded of in this. I don't know if Joss ever came across this book, but it's a good comparison.
* I also saw a reference online that someone was reminded of the comic book Dreamless, which I ended up reading last night after finishing up the movie. It was interesting, and god knows the art is lovely. And it is kind of one of the best "what now?" endings you've ever seen--now that the goal has been achieved, suddenly there's other things to worry about... I kinda concur that the focus is on the less active character of the two, though, and that's not quite as good. It also felt a bit abbreviated in between pages, like more was going on that we didn't get to see and I would have appreciated more detail. Most of the focus is on the pining rather than how these two relate to each other--something that this movie I'm talking about does a lot better, I must say! Here's another review of Dreamless if you want to read up on that.

Anyway, watching this movie reminded me of Jenny Crusie's various essays on writing romance and the like, but especially this one. Man, I hope she sees the movie. I'd love to see her writeup of it.

And you should see it. I'm just hoping I can find another free two hours in my life to watch it again before the rental runs out, and I'm really sad they don't plan on releasing it in purchasable form, because I'd probably make everyone who wandered into my house watch it. The chemistry is amazing and it's the most romantic movie I've seen in ages.


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