Love must be in the air, what with At Middleton first and then this, an unexpected romance from the pen of Joss Whedon. Yes, unlikely as it may seem, it is indeed the same Joss Whedon responsible (writing and production) for this rather unusual tale of two people, polar opposites it would seem, that are somehow telepathically connected from a very early age, who find each other, by literal accident, twenty years later. It has been called a metaphysical love story and to be fair, the focus is on the romance rather than the supernatural, so know this before you part with your hard-earned folding paper.
Showing for the first time at Tribeca only a few short days ago, this practically simultaneous digital download became available as soon as the premiere was over. Whedon has expressed an interest in opening up new avenues of distribution and this seems like as good a project to experiment with as any.
Starring the cinephile’s favourite cute, small and perfectly formed bundle of creative excellence Zoe Kazan, and Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield), this is undoubtedly a romance by the numbers, featuring beautiful people having a rough time until they inevitably find each other and their life improves tenfold.
Here, boy meets girl in the most unusual circumstances, both being able to hear the other inside their own heads, before eventually being able to see though each others eyes (hence the title) and experience many of the things that the other is going through themselves. Giving an honest insight into how your partner may be feeling, this would really test the limits of emotional endurance for most of us, but these two interconnected souls are rare forms of human being, that do not appear to mind the constant intrusion that such an initially scary violation may cause. Played out like the best of both worlds, these two strangers from different sides of the United States are bonded in a way they do not understand and for the audience, it is not too much of surprise to find that they follow their hearts when their heads may tell them otherwise.
Kazan, who I personally prefer when she is writing her own parts rather than taking on those offered by others, plays Rebecca Porter, listless wife to a promising young Doctor, with a history of mental illness in her youth (starting to become clear now?) that has caused her husband to become wary of her moods incase of the effect it may have on his career and standing. He loves her dearly, we surmise, but the poor woman is missing something. She rattles around in their big house all day, shops for frillies, does the grocery shopping and even takes an art class, but this is a woman who knows even herself that she is never going to be the independent woman she might have been, had it not been for her youth. She is needy, when there really is no need. She only needs to believe that she can do this on her own.
Stahl-David plays Dylan, an ex-convict, still on parole, living on the other side of the country in a dilapidated trailer, where he rarely has money to buy anything more than a beer at the local bar, and sometimes not even then. Like Rebecca, Dylan is something of a loner, but despite being in prison for a couple of years, and luckily for the plot, he has a genuinely good heart.
The story of love across a distance is scuppered by the internal text and video conferencing application that plays out in both their heads, but this is still a long-distance relationship and the question of communication is often raised and just as often dealt with quite neatly. What starts as a very unusual talent shared develops from just hearing each other, to seeing what the other sees and even to smelling what the other person is holding. This makes the story much more pliable and would have proved difficult to maintain without them.
At it’s core, however, this is still just a love story with a unique twist and anybody that tells you differently, well, they are perhaps looking at it through rose-tinted spectacles. The problems they experience are the same as any young couple living apart over a great distance, but the film does highlight the benefits that a good internet connection can now have in such circumstances. Ultimately, boy does meet girl, in a final act that relapses into cliches that we are all familiar with.
Nice performances from both Kazan and Stahl-David make this a very watchable project from beginning to end, with Kazan continuing to show what a great talent she is on screen as well as off. The cinematography and direction are pretty standard and you’re never surprised by the choice of shot, even maybe rolling your eyes at the snow, which was pretty, but entirely unnecessary.
For £3/$5 on Video On Demand, it’s a bargain, however, so if you appreciate a soppy romance, then you might just be set.