Open Road Films
The idea of a blind person suddenly being able to see and how that might affect their life is a high-concept story idea, and one that has been done before, most recently in Ido Fluk’s The Ticket starring Dan Stevens, which I wasn’t a very big fan of.
When I heard that Blake Lively would be taking on a similar role in a film conceptualized and directed by Marc Forster (World War Z), I wasn’t sure there was any more that could be done with the premise. After watching All I See Is You, I’m still not sure.
The film opens in Bangkok, Thailand in the midst of a sex scene between Lively’s Gina and her husband James, played by Jason Clarke, and we see images that might reflect what Gina is feeling while having sex. Shortly after that, Gina meets with her eye doctor (Danny Huston) who explains the procedure that will restore the vision in Gina’s right eye only, and the rest of the movie shows how Gina and James react and interact to the new dynamic created by her vision being restored.
As she starts seeing things more clearly, she realizes that maybe James isn’t her perfect mate, and she tries to explore her new freedom without needing him to guide her around. When the two of them go to Barcelona to visit Gina’s sister Carla (Ahna O’Reilly) and her artist husband Ramon (Miquel Fernández), there’s a tonal shift in the film as Gina starts exploring other aspects of her sexuality that James can’t fulfill, leaving him feeling neglected. Once they get back to Thailand, she’s ready to move out of their old apartment and get a house somewhere else. The conversations the couple has are fairly graphic, recalling Eyes Wide Shut or even the work of Neil LaBute, and the movie clearly earns its R-rating.
It’s hard to talk about All I See Is You and put into words what Forster and his actors were trying to achieve, because this film is not as simple and straight-forward as it might seem. In fact, that may be the film’s ultimate undoing, because it’s a strange movie where lots of unrelated things happen that do little to propel the story forward. We continue watching mainly because we want to see if any of it will add up to much.
As someone who only became a fan of Lively after seeing The Shallows last year, I was fairly impressed with the emotional transformation she goes through over the course of this film. Clarke also proves he can play a more interesting husband than the one he plays in Dee Rees’ Mudbound, possibly because he’s better suited to playing more contemporary roles.
Much of the film uses blurry camerawork to try to make the viewer see through Gina’s eyes (or eye, in some cases), but otherwise, it’s a slightly voyeuristic film that allows Forster to play around with visuals and make something semi-artistic compared to his previous work. There’s something quite romantic and glamorous in the way he blends the colorful visuals of the film’s Bangkok and Barcelona settings with different types of esoteric music. (If nothing else, the film’s score is quite wonderful.) At times, the film is in danger of becoming the type of travelogue porn we’ve seen whenever a filmmaker has so many great locations in which to place his characters, even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense to the story.
More than anything, this is a movie about a relationship and how it’s affected when one person undergoes such a dramatic change. By the end, I was tearing up more than I expected, but it’s hard to deny that the movie is somewhat hit-and-miss, since some scenes work better than others.
All I See Is You won’t be for everyone, and some people are going to absolutely loathe everything about the film, especially if they’re familiar with Lively from her more mainstream roles. To me, it’s a lovely artistic character exploration that is quite compelling when you’re willing to go along for the ride.
Running time: 110 minutes
Edward Douglas | East Coast Editor