Director: Guillem Morales
Stars: Belén Rueda, Lluis Homar, Pablo Derqui
Plot: Julia (Rueda), a woman slowly losing her eyesight, investigates the mysterious death of her twin sister, who had become blind from the same degenerative disease.
Guillermo Del Toro is a man of many talents. From director to producer, make-up artist, writer, designer, actor and film editor – his CV proves that he could save any studio a heap of money by just running the entire production himself. Del Toro is best known as the director and producer of Pan’s Labyrinth, a visceral Spanish fantasy film, full of terrifying, overwhelming visions, which is ironic considering his latest Spanish-language film is about a woman losing her sight.
Directed by Guillem Morales, an apprentice by comparison, Julia’s Eyes revolves around a woman, Julia (Rueda) whose twin sister Sara (Rueda, again) apparently commits suicide in her basement. But because she has already been struck blind by the same disease that Julia is suffering from (and the police dismiss her as being depressed due to her condition), she suspects foul play despite there being very little evidence.
Julia confides in her husband Isaac who isn’t convinced that there is anything amiss, but as she discovers the existence of an ‘invisible man’ and a mysterious boyfriend whom Sara was apparently involved with, the genre of the film switches back and forth from intriguing thriller to squeamish horror.
With flashes of first-person perspective, Julia’s increasing frustration with her impending blindness is superbly conveyed. As she investigates the clues to her sister’s death, the problems with her sight make this film different from the usual straightforward thrillers. As each mysterious subplot is explained, the full horror of Julia’s predicament becomes apparent, ironically as she herself can no longer see.
Julia’s Eyes matches up to most thrillers, but it fails to totally satisfy in some areas of the plot, especially where the explanation for why an unseen perpetrator can’t be noticed even by those who can see. There’s also an overdose of mawkishness, which is a misguided attempt to inject a little wistful romance into the proceedings, but it falls rather flat.
This is well-directed by Morales, but one wonders if Del Toro could have used his editing skills to take out the schmaltz so that we would be left with something a lot more substantial.