Movie Review for The Eye (2008)

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Review #612 of 365
Movie Review of The Eye (2008) [PG-13] 97 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $12.00
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 2 February 2008
Time: 5:25 pm
DVD Release Date: 3 June 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: David Moreau (Ils) • Xavier Palud (Ils)
Written by: Sebastian Gutierrez (Snakes on a Plane) Based on the film, Gin gwai written by Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui, Danny Pang, and Oxide Pang Chun

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Jessica Alba (Awake) • Alessandro Nivola (Goal! The Dream Begins) • Parker Posey (Superman Returns) • Rade Serbedzija (Shooter) • Fernanda Romero (Carts) • Rachel Ticotin (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) • Obba Babatundé (The Celestine Prophecy) • Danny Mora (Gridiron Gang) • Chloe Moretz ("Dirty Sexy Money")

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Click to see photos from the Premiere of The Eye
Click to read the spoiler points for The Eye
With the popularity of Japanese ghost stories translated into USA hit films like The Grudge, it was only a matter of time before someone would attempt a Chinese ghost story, this time Jo Jo Yuet-chun Hui, Danny Pang, and Oxide Pang Chun's Gin gwai known now as the Jessica Alba vehicle, The Eye. The film begins with a brief glimpse at the suicide of a young woman to a chorus of children chanting bruja (witch) outside her home someplace in Mexico—this before the opening credits. Then we meet a accomplished, blind violinist named Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) whose warmth and charm are only exceeded by her virtuoso status on her favorite instrument. She speaks in voice over a bit about her life. She's been functionally blind since the age of five when both of her corneas were damaged. Yet, she's been able to develop an appreciation for the beauty the world possesses as revealed through her other now heightened senses. One of the most insightful things she reveals about herself is a hidden desired she's always held that to actually see music. She's sure it's incredibly beautiful. A thought most sighted people would never have for they know that music produces no visual trail like lightning, but a blind person would not necessarily know that music might not be producing a spectacular visual patters. In any case, she's absolutely adorable and beloved by all who know her. Since she was five, however, her older sister Helen (Parker Posey) has lived with the guilt of responsibility for the loss of Sydney's sight as it was, apparently, her idea to play with firecrackers, a fact learned a bit later on. So, when the possibility of another cornea transplant (the first was rejected and so much more progress in organ transplant has been made in the mean time) comes along, she pushes Sydney forward. She has the transplant and immediately begins having horrific visions of people being led away by horrifying, shadowy figures just before they would die. As a bit of a flaw in this story, there is a certain inconsistency to her visions that is initially maddening if one is trying to figure out what is going on with Sydney. Mostly, though, this is reconciled by the ending revelation and semi-twist. Of course, no one really believes her vision stories, and a special doctor, Paul Faulkner (Allessandro Nivola), takes her case. He specializes in helping new cornea transplant patients adapt to the sight sensory overload they suddenly experience. His job is to help her learn in a short time, what sighted people take years to comprehend in a world where visual clues and cues have evolved into a language all their own and one with which blind people would have no experience. The worst part, he explains, will be that sighted people will expect her to simply understand, and yet she will not. He chalks her visions up to her mind being on overload from all this extra stimuli, which, by the way, at first is terribly blurry adding to her own confusion as to whether or not she's actually seeing things.

Co-directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud have successfully translated the original film into one that will be appreciated by USAer ghost story scary movie fans. With clever and shadowy special effects and a plot that gets increasingly unnerving as the heroine plunges further into a dark world where no one believes her and yet she's either going crazy or having an otherworldly experience, The Eye is fast-paced and unrelenting. Sometimes, it's a bit too much, and the clues to the mystery take a long time in coming. Another slight flaw is that a little too much time is spent on build up forcing an expeditious climax. Jessica Alba fans will relish in this film focusing nearly entirely on her, though she spends a lot of time in panic mode. In the end, she gathers an inner strength in her character recognizing that only she can get to the bottom of what's happening to her.

…not a perfect film…[still] a welcome departure from mind-numbing gore fests in horror films…
Alessandro Nivola the fine actor from Boston, MA brings an important dimension to his role as Sydney's personal physician. He's only able to conceal his obvious affection for her so much—in other words, there's chemistry written all over his face no matter how professionally he must behave. His ability to keep his character's emerging attachment just below the surface enhances his role. Parker Posey probably was not the right choice for Sydney's sister. Aside from the obvious fact that they don't even remotely look like sisters, she's far too gruff. It's not her fault her character is poorly developed in the script, and she's given little to manifest on the screen. At times when the supposedly doting sister would be expected to step up, she's nowhere to be found. Fortunately, Dr. Faulkner is quick to appear by Sydney's side.

The Eye is not a perfect film. It has its share of small flaws and, perhaps, a few larger ones. Still, it's a welcome departure from mind-numbing gore fests in horror films such as Halloween—the re-boot. It's psychologically disturbing as well as 'jump out at you scary'. While this may not turn out to be exactly the career-changing role for which Jessica Alba and her fans may have been hoping, neither will it sink her career. It's about on par with her previous roles in Awake and Good Luck Chuck when it comes to demonstrating her growing versatility. No doubt, too, it will enjoy some box-office success that will encourage the adaptation of additional stories from their original Chinese source material further fostering a bridge between our peoples and realizations of shared curiosity and interest in the beyond.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring The Eye (2008)
Cast Members
Jessica AlbaAlessandro NivolaParker Posey
Rade SerbedzijaFernanda RomeroRachel Ticotin
Obba BabatundéDanny MoraChloe Moretz
David Moreau
co-directed by Xavier PaludSebastian Gutierrez

Review-lite The Eye (2008) [max of 150 words]
Jessica Alba portrays the violin virtuoso Sydney Wells as well as a recent cornea transplant patient who suddenly starts having horrifying visions of shadowy death. Her physician, Dr. Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola) subscribes these to the overwhelming levels of new stimuli her brain is receiving and trying to learn to process in a short time after yeas of blindness. In the end, she must get to the bottom of what's happening to her or face an uncertain psychosis. Imperfect with minor flaws and one miscasting in that of Parker Posey as Sydney's sister, the scary, twisty film, is a welcome change from the mind-numbing horror gore fests of late. Alba and Nivola make for a great pair, as he's only barely capable of hiding his growing affection for his patient. The end ties up most of the plot while leaving room for a sequel—which there was to the original Gin gwai.

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