This movie took me completely off guard. A film written and produced by Joss Whedon that premiered April 20, In Your Eyes was released for digital rental the same day as it’s film festival premiere. For five dollars, you can stream the film from Vimeo, and let me tell you, that is a five dollars well worth spending. I have a few nitpicks here and there, but on the whole, this is a film that’s going to stick with me for a while.
Dylan and Rebecca have a connection, and yet they have never met in person. They are able to see what the other sees, hear what the other says, and feel what the other feels. They are two people that, based on appearances, couldn’t be more different. Dylan is an ex-convict who is smarter than almost anyone gives him credit for, scraping by on dead-end jobs in New Mexico. Rebecca is the wife of a distinguished doctor, living a life of luxury that isn’t quite fulfilling for her. After a hilarious scene in which the two become aware of one another, they start forming a fast friendship, finding that they complement each other perfectly, which eventually leads to fantastically realized romance.
I absolutely love how genuine the relationship between these two characters feels, even though the two are never in the same room. I have to applaud Michael Stahl-David and Zoe Kazan for some amazing performances, for they have to convey a vast array of emotions while carrying on a conversation with someone who isn’t even on set. They both portray deep characters that are by no means perfect. Character perfection is a trope romance stories fall into all too often, and the humanity of these two only makes their chemistry work all the more. It’s easy to see why they belong together, and the bizarre psychic nature of their relationship is a really neat plot gimmick to connect two characters who would have never known about each other.
The writing is Whedon’s particular mix of witticism and dramatic tension, and it is simultaneously hilarious, touching, and in one scene in particular, simply heartbreaking. It’s really great to see him devoting energy to smaller projects even while working on the Avengers movies. That being said, though, I can’t help but feel that the film’s ending is somewhat lacking, for it leaves a few too many questions unanswered when the credits roll. Maybe we as the audience are supposed to be satisfied by the resolution of just the central conflict, but there were a few too many elements of the climax that would have benefitted from a proper epilogue. Also, just to nitpick at the direction a little bit, I feel like there’s perhaps one or two excessive montage scenes. However, the music that plays during them is good, and director Brin Hill is more than competent for the majority of the film, particularly in the aforementioned scenes with the two leads and the crosscuts during their conversations, so violating one of my pet peeves is pretty forgivable.
On the whole, though, I thoroughly recommend In Your Eyes. This unconventional love story is one of the most sincere I’ve seen on screen, rivaling even last year’s fantastic Her. It’s smart, funny, emotionally engrossing, and overall just a great piece of cinema. It’s worth five dollars for the digital rental, and I strongly urge anyone who likes Joss Whedon or even just a good love story to give this one a shot.
Have a favorite piece of the Whedon-verse? Let me know in the comments below.