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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Julia's Eyes (2010) Thriller

Julia's Eyes (2010) - Los ojos de Julia, Original title, Spanish
I love when a movie has a great opening sequence and this film does.When the first ten minutes is compelling it immediately makes the viewer want more and that is what the beginning of this film does. I end up liking the film a bit more because of the engaging start. Julia's eyes has such a start. We open on a neighborhood of identical houses. There is music we follow as we close down onto one house in particular house. The woman does not like the music and looks around for whoever turned it on. Not looking with her eyes as it is obvious that she is blind. The power goes off. The lead actress (Belen Rueda)stands in the dark her eyes bluish clouds of blindness. She is yelling into the dark, to the viewer it appears that she is yelling into a dark corner. There is no one there but she believes there is. Her blindness gets the viewer to believe it too. She goes down into the cellar and makes her way we think to a fuse box but part way across the floor is a stool. She seems to know what the stool is for and she climbs up atop it. A noose hangs from the ceiling and she has thought about using it before. She does not want to though with that being in the dark watching her. She addresses the darkness, "You think you can fool me. No, you can't fool me! I can feel your presence and your movements. I can even smell you, and if you think, you son of a bitch, that I'm going to hang myself while you're there..." A leg shoots from the darkness sending the stool flying and the woman struggles as the noose tightens around her neck. A camera flashes from the corner of the room a couple times capturing her death on film. Then we see a syringe kit being folded by the gloved hand of the intruder.
  Here we have the set up worthy of continuing the film. The woman obviously not Julia (also Rueda) since the title of the film leads away from that is a mystery. After we learn who she is, Julia's twin sister Sara, we still have questions that need to be answered. Why was she so willing to hang herself? It seemed she set up that scenario but why was there someone else there? Was the blindness the reason for the noose or was the harassment by the unknown person the reason? What was that syringe kit for, did it have something to do with Sara? So many questions to get the viewer primed for the main story. Julia being a twin has a feeling something is wrong with her sister and she and her husband go to the house. We quickly learn that the eye problems experienced by Sara are genetic and Julia has started losing her sight also. In a fine POV we get to see through Julia's eyes. How there are clouds of darkness as she struggles to make out the room she is in. It is a disconcerting experience to help the viewer understand her plight. Here is this woman struggling not only with the loss of her sister in an apparent suicide but also the fear that she will soon be blind. She has a loving husband Isaac (Lluis Homar) who stands by her even when she doubts her sister took her own life. Still this is a mystery and we know for it to proceed she needs to be lead towards answers.
Writer/director Guillem Morales does a fine job leading us through the story. With fellow writer Oriol Paulo we get the "next" character introduction needed to bring Julia to the next question. At her sister's home there is the next door neighbor Blasco (Boris Ruiz), his daughter Lia (Andrea Hermosa) and old blind lady Soledad (Julia Gutierrez Caba) to get her to the community center for the blind that Sara attended. From there the women of the center who are all blind help her notice that she is being followed by a man, through scent they find him out, and also that Sara had a boyfriend, a
to surprise to Julia. This leads to the Hotel Romeo, where Sara stayed at with her man friend and the character Crespulo (Joan Dalmau) and a key Sara left behind. While there the behavior of her husband Isaac raises suspicions for the audience, (possibly the red herring?). but in all doing everything that needs to be done to make a good thriller.
  There are several nice creepy and suspenseful scenes. When at her sisters funeral, Julia is sitting by the grave and mourning when a consoling hand is placed on her shoulder. Thinking it is her husband she then realizes through her foggy vision that she can see him yards away, startled she turns and find no one there. Then again after the blind women in the locker room of the community center identify a follower Julia tries to chase him through the half lit corridors of the building. Cornering in a dead end she realizes this is probably not the best idea she had. When we see the flash from the camera from the first scene we know there is danger in her decision. This before we even get to the big turn and the really suspenseful scenes. Adding to the horror for the character is that her husband first goes missing and then is found hanging in Sara's cellar with a suicide note detailing his affair with Sara. A devastating blow to Julia.
  Julia's condition deteriorates and there is only hope of an operations, It is unclear what the operation entails since part of the problem with the condition is nerve damage so what does the donor donate? retina? entire eyes? I am pretty sure eye transplants have not been successfully performed. So she is now in need of assistance and it takes the form of Ivan (Dani Codina) who is sent from the agency to teach her how to get around now that her sight is gone.
  There are a couple problems with this movie and really they start about this time. Ivan's face is never seen by us, the audience giving away that he is the killer. But then is he? where you never see him until the killer Angel (Pablo Derqui) exposes himself you can never be sure if he is the mysterious person in the shadows. As we learn the pieces of information we have been wanting to know we also see that Julia is in grave danger. Loving and kind to her Ivan is almost shown to be too good to be the bad guy but the filming choice lets us know it is not so. I suppose that they wanted us to be filled with a sense of dread but it was not the response I had. Since I knew she was in the care of the killer I just wanted to get to the climax, nothing was gained through the scenes of their relationship building for me. Secondly I really disliked the fact that she went to live in her sister's house. I understand how it was necessary for the logistics of the story but it felt way too forced. These were script decisions that make sense but I did not buy into enough. I think I would have liked it if we kept the Ivan character in full view and only slipped details of who he was in a bit at a time. It did not gain anything by outing him as early as the film did.
  Still this was an excellent film. Thrilling with a nice climax and one hell of a turn at the end and then a final fight for life that was satisfying and complete. So I liked this film a lot and maybe it will get me to include more thrillers into this blog. The horror aspects of the film were very complimentary so at least these films that straddle the line have a place here.
Rating (7.9) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.

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