Eye of the Beholder

Eye-yi-yi!

Ewan McGregor plays a spy who maintains an aura of mystery so dense that not even his co-workers know him that well. Truth is, he’s shut himself off from the world — viewing it only through surveillance devices, communicating with his agency contact (k.d. lang) only through an audio/video Internet hookup, and communing only with the ghost of the daughter he lost years ago.

One night, while on an assignment he’s accepted as a “favor” to his boss, the man he’s tailing is brutally murdered by a young woman (Ashley Judd). Something stops him from turning the woman in. Instead, he follows and observes her, his daughter urging him not to lose sight of the killer. He follows her across the country, from city to city, from murder to murder — intrigue easily turning to obsession. At first he merely pursues her, but when she’s threatened he finds himself covertly helping her along, eventually becoming a sort of ever-present guardian angel whom she can only glimpse.

Australian writer/director Stephan Elliott, until now best known for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, has crafted a very mature, very sad but stylish love story. It’s never overtly passionate enough to qualify as an outright romance (besides, it’s too creepy), and there’s never enough suspense or action to call it a thriller. Likely, he’s trying to tell us something about how technology is raising barriers between people, making it ever easier to hide and lurk. Hogwash — technology has that potential, but people are using it to become closer than ever before. However, Eye of the Beholder can hold its own on a technical basis with any other modern movie –┬áit rarely lags, and has the uncommon ability to get under your skin. You might be startled to realize just how easily this woman, whom you have seen commit a number of cold-blooded murders, gains your sympathy, and how hard you find yourself rooting for McGregor to get together with her at last.

It’s a haunter, perfect for lonely, rainy evenings when there’s nothing better to do other than watch your neighbors out the window. But is anyone watching you?

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