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Julia's Eyes

Julia's Eyes (Los ojos de Julia)

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

SPANISH psychological thriller Julia’s Eyes plays on two of our greatest fears: the dark and blindness. As such, it’s a gripping piece of cinema that, from a filmmaking point of view, astounds in several places.

Unfortunately, it’s let down by some curious plot devices that require audiences to make too great a leap of faith at several points.

That said, as with many great thrillers and/or horror films, the bulk of the enjoyment is often to be found in the journey and writer-director Guillem Morales, together with producer Guillermo Del Toro, has created a genuinely unsettling movie that plays well to a big audience experience.

When her blind twin sister dies in mysterious circumstances, Julia (Belen Rueda) decides to investigate despite suffering from a medical condition that is gradually taking away her eyesight… a condition that is exacerbated by stress.

As Julia takes more risks in search of the truth, however, her sight continues to deteriorate at a more rapid pace, while she finds herself being stalked by a seemingly invisible man.

The most striking thing about Morales’ film is the sense of atmosphere it creates, having been shot in such a way that it renders the audience as visually impaired as Julia at several points.

As a result, viewers get to share the same frustrations as the central character, as well as trepidation as Julia frequently places herself in harm’s way by exploring dark basements or dingy corridors. It’s a disconcerting experience, made all the more heightened by several jump-out-of-your seat surprises.

Morales is also aided in this by another excellent performance from Rueda (last seen by UK audiences in The Orphanage) who effortlessly combines fear with determination and a desperate will to survive.

While several of the set pieces stand-out, especially during the final, incredibly tense third as Julia attempts to outwit the man who has been pursuing her for the entire film.

It’s just a shame that Morales’ screenplay (co-written with Oriol Paulo) insists on having several characters behave erratically and sometimes stupidly, while drawing out the ending and dropping in some unnecessary red herrings to prolong the running time.

A tighter, leaner film would have left a far greater lasting impression, although Morales also deserves credit for interweaving a strong love story as a backdrop that enables viewers to engage on an emotional level and which lends the film a surprising poignancy.

It means that, overall, Julia’s Eyes comes recommended, so long as you’re prepared for some flaws.

In Spanish, with subtitles

Certificate: 15
Running time: 117mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: September 12, 2011