I watched Julia's Eyes twice in two days, not because I liked it, but because I didn't. Maybe I should work on my logic.
Released in 2010, Julia's Eyes (originally entitled Los ojos de Julia) is a sub-titled Spanish language "Guilermo del Toro Presents" film directed by Guillem Morales. While I'm generally skeptical of the This Famous Person Presents gimmick, I had high expectations for this film, even if I had not heard of Morales before. After all, Guilermo del Toro was only a producer on The Orphanage and that was fantastic (actress Belén Rueda stars in both). Also, while del Toro was a writer and creator for the The Strain, he only personally directed a few episodes and that show seldom disappoints. I'm a huge fan of del Toro and his attention to detail and visual craftsmanship.
So I was surprised when Julia's Eyes fell flat for me. While I didn't hate it, I found it muddling and drawn out, with characters making questionable choices and some scenes feeling contrived. This couldn't be.Was it perhaps me? Maybe I wasn't getting it. Because I avoid reading critic's reviews before writing posts, I instead checked the viewer approval on movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, where Julia's Eyes was running at a remarkable 95%! Not only that, I saw multiple comments comparing it to Hitchcock movies and even Psycho. Psycho? A near perfect horror thriller down to every detail? Seriously, what was I missing?
This movie had won some legitimate viewer praise, so I needed to watch it again. The second time I wasn't gong alone. I watched it with a female horror fan five years younger than me. A different perspective was needed.
Ironically, I had paired this movie with Magic Hat's limited edition Art Hop Imperial Blonde Ale, a beer I was prepared to not like because of the name. Magic Hat is a good brewery, but their beers are generally too light for my taste and I personally have never been much of a fan. In the same way I was expecting the world from Julia's Eyes because of Del Toro's name, I was expecting little from this beer because of the Magic Hat name. From the first taste, I knew I was drinking a creative, memorable and delicious creation. What was happening to Fear with Beer? Was my ability to evaluate movies and beer fading, disappearing in darkening circles like the eyesight of Julia, our movie heroine?
Pouring Another Round of Los OjosThe following day, I checked Rotten Tomatoes again. The score had dropped to 91%, a drop but still a respectable score. Maybe I had simply been in a mood.
The movie itself revolves around Julia, a woman with a degenerative eye condition investigating the apparent suicide of her twin sister. Believing her sister was murdered, Julia seeks a man she believes should exist even though few people remember seeing him. As she seeks out this unseen man, her eyesight is simultaneously failing, with the viewer experiencing her darkening sphere of vision where peripherals and details become indistinct. No doubt there are some clever ideas here dealing with vision and seeing.
A few scenes reminded me of the classic Audrey Hepburn thriller Wait Until Dark (1967), and I wanted to find an intentional homage to that classic. In Wait Until Dark, Hepburn plays a blind woman being terrorized by a demented criminal expertly played by a young Alan Arkin. There is a young girl named Lia in Julia's Eyes, and I wondered if she referenced the young Gloria in Wait Until Dark - Lia/Gloria? That was a stretch. If any homage was intentional, I was unable to tell.
So What Did We See in Julia's Eyes?After the second viewing, my original take held and my guest had very similar reactions. We both found the movie unnecessarily complicated and long, and both of us questioned a few head-scratching choices made by characters. We also both agreed that certain characters and scenes were overdone simply to introduce misdirection or force an idea on the viewer, and we both rolled our eyes at the ending, The only major difference we had was while I found a few scenes irritating, she didn't see them that way.
On the flip side, we both agreed that the gradually diminishing vision added a level of panic and tension as Julia works against time, and we both appreciated the director's refusal to use cheap jump scares. I was unable to get an opinion on the movie homage because my friend inexplicably has never seen Wait Until Dark. Tell me you've seen it. Please. Seriously, it's a pretty flippin' awesome movie and an essential for horror fans.
|Audrey Hepburn in|
Wait Until Dark
Overall, neither of us found Julia's Eyes to be a classic and certainly not on par with Hitchcock, but we also both agreed it was a better than average movie. Had I not been holding it to a del Toro standard, I would have been more forgiving. Obviously my issues were non-issues to many, though, so if you haven't yet seen it and enjoy tense thrillers, see what you think. If nothing else, there are original ideas, and even if I didn't feel they were presented well, it's always great to see someone trying something a bit different.
Final Word on Magic Hat Art Hop Ale
By now I'm not sure if you'll still be able to find this 2016 limited edition Belgian blond ale released for summer, but if you can, snag it. An 8%, with body and flavor, this beer is made with sage and blood orange, both distinct. There is almost a syrupy effect, but not in an off-putting way. It's interesting and colorful tasting without coming off as a silly novelty. I had it in a 16 ounce can, but because of the intensity of flavors I personally wouldn't drink two of these back to back. This is a one-glass beer. That's not a bad thing, though. This is a beer to enjoy in the same way as a dessert.