Eye of the Beholder/C,B+
Columbia/1999/101/ANA 2.35

     Wigs. You better love wigs for this hairy flick. You  think Bruce Willis was the last word on hairpieces in the lamentable The Jackal. Even Wigstock, the transvestite festival movie can't compete with the array of wigs worn by Ashley Judd in Eye of the Beholder. Happily, Judd looks great in all the wigs, but one must wonder if the core of this story was lost with all the loose hair that must have gone done the drain in keeping the wigs perfectly coiffed.
     There's a major problem with the plot of Eye of the Beholder. I kept thinking there was more to this tale than met my eye. I was waiting for some wild pay-off; something akin to The Sixth Sense, that would explain all the incomprehensible behavior. I was prepared to be thoroughly annoyed with the unsatisfying rational of the conclusion. But, the biggest surprise writer/director Stephen Elliot possibly could deliver to me is that this was a straight-forward story with no real twists or turns. That was incomprehensible.

Keep a watchful eye on Judd. ©Columbia

     Ewan McGregor, looking barely out of grade school, plays an intelligent agent suffering through post familial desertion. You know, it's the old my wife ran out on me and took my daughter syndrome. McGregor can barely mount a reasonable amount of facial stubble, much less portray the world-weary sense needed for this role. On a personal assignment for his British boss (What spy agency is he working for anyway?), McGregor stumbles on a beautiful serial killer. Thank God she's Ashley Judd, cause at least she's intelligent enough to make Joanna Eris a chameleon serial killer. His fascination overpowers all his experience and whatever good sense he ever had. And even a gorgeous Judd can't bring much life to the stilted story. 
     Considering the limited production budget, Eye of the Beholder looks terrific. Montreal doubles for almost all the locations with convincing authority. Elliot's cuts from location to location, typically through snow globes, grow tiresome and portentous without delivering. 
     The Dolby Digital 5:1 surround is very active. Pans move through the theater with snap and precision. Look for the bell tower sequence to reverberate from back to front of the room and catch the little girls echoing through the mind of Ewan McGregor and around the home theater. The picture is mostly is consistently sharp with some minor edge enhancement noticeable in long shots. Color is good enough to differentiate the subtleties between all the wig colors.
     Director Stephen Elliot provides an illuminating and honest second audio commentary. I was especially anxious to listen to his observations since I was sure I missed something about the plot, but Elliot made it clear that the only thing I noticed was an absence of clarity. Some of the trials and tribulations of getting an independent vision made are outlined by the director, and one feels his sincerity in trying to bring his vision to the screen.




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