New Hampshire and New Mexico.
1926 miles separate their borders, but two people have bridged the distance with a very odd connection: each can see, hear, and feel what the other is experiencing, even though they’ve never even been in the same room at the same time. Sound strange to you? Damn right. Brin Hill’s new film In Your Eyes takes us into the lives of two diametrically opposite people joined by this supernatural link.
Working from a very early Joss Whedon screenplay, Hill introduces us to Rebecca Porter (Zoe Kazan) and Dylan Kershaw (Michael Stahl-David) from New Hampshire and New Mexico, respectively; one’s a privileged doctor’s wife, the other’s an ex-con working at a car wash. Rebecca and Dylan’s minds are inextricably, inexplicably linked; the first instance is Rebecca’s traumatic sledding accident, which Dylan witnesses firsthand while sitting in a classroom on the other side of the country. He sees the sledding hill as she sees it, grabbing the edges of his desk like they were the sled’s controls; when she runs full-tilt-boogie into the tree, it not only knocks her out, but him as well.
All through their lives, bits of their experiences make their way into each other’s conscious, without warning or without reason. Now, as adults, this phenomena has come to a head, with them actually being able to interact with each other, something they’ve never been able to do before. To anyone else, these people look like they’re talking to themselves, when they’re actually having a cross-country conversation without phones or a communication device of some kind. Having gone through their whole lives knowing what the other was doing – Dylan’s first night in jail and Rebecca’s bad breakup are among the examples given – it’s like they’ve got a built-in best friend that can be there anytime they need.
It’s not your typical friendship – having a stranger know some of the most personal, intimate details of your life without even knowing who you are is a bit disconcerting. Trust me, if a voice suddenly rang through my head and images of what the speaker was seeing flashed before my eyes, I’d be wondering if I was going crazy, too. However, as this is a Whedon screenplay, we are simply made to behold the ordinary made extraordinary, which is where the film excels, but…
There are so many things I want to say about In Your Eyes, including why I loved it and why it somewhat disappointed me. For me, In Your Eyes feels a little like last year’s Academy Award-winning Her, a film about a man who falls in love with his computer operating system. He carries her around in his pocket on his phone, he communicates with her on his computer – she’s in the ether, but somehow, they both have an effect on each other that they can’t explain. While both films were made independent of each other, the comparisons are inescapable. However, both participants are flesh-and-blood in Whedon’s screenplay, and the duo of Kazan and Stahl-David pull it off by being extremely charismatic and charming.
Bringing in almost sad excuses for moral and bitchy drama on both characters’ parts brought this movie down a bit. Understandably, we root for Rebecca as she frees herself from her suffocating existence as a controlling doctor’s kept wife. However, **SPOILER ALERT** the ending where Dylan tells her not to do whatever someone else tells her to do, then proceeds to tell her what she should be doing with herself feels very at odds with what has come before.
The whole movie, we’re seeing both Dylan and Rebecca finally come into their own, as if their new level of communication was fated to kick off at this very point in their lives, leading them to each other. But trumped up circumstances from Dylan’s past feel too shoehorned, too unnatural for the kind of vibe Hill and Whedon are trying to put across.
For some reason, In Your Eyes seems to me more of an allegory for puberty. The rash decisions of youth are exemplified by Dylan and Rebecca’s behavior prior to finally breaking through to be able to talk with a member of the opposite sex, truly discovering their capacities for love. Thinking of In Your Eyes in this fashion makes the movie more enjoyable, as each suffers through the awkward growing pains of actually settling down and allowing someone into their souls, both literally and figuratively.
The script pops and hums with Stahl-David and Kazan powering the movie with wit and charm, and it’s made all the more ethereal by Elisha Christian’s stirring cinematography. Color shifts between the warm browns of New Mexico and the cold blues of New Hampshire further delineate the different lives of Dylan and Rebecca before coming to an all-encompassing, cleansing snow white. In Your Eyes is a project of passion, and it’s hard not to lose yourself in its wiles.
Available for $5.00 at http://inyoureyesmovie.com/.