There is a lot to look at in “All I See Is You,” an overwrought melodrama from Marc Forster (“Monster’s Ball,” “World War Z”) about a woman, blind since childhood, who has her sight restored by an operation.
Within the first few minutes of the film, roiling clouds turn into tossing sheets which turn into a multifaceted kaleidoscopic image of a couple making love which turns into an aerial shot of a red car heading for a fatal collision. That’s just for starters. There’s also time-lapse photography, quick cuts, extreme close-ups of minutia such as a cigarette being inhaled, glittering wind chimes, shots of menacing-looking strangers on a Bangkok streetcar. . . . Some of this is from the memory, imagination, and blurred point of view of the woman, but a lot seems derivative of the films of Nicolas Roeg.
What emerges from this pretentious if diverting mishmash is a story that is equally predictable and contrived, but nonetheless offers some worthwhile insights into the notion of the male gaze and the subjugation of women.
In the story, Gina (Blake Lively, in a performance of depth and subtlety that is the best thing in the film) has entered a seemingly happy marriage with James (Australian actor Jason Clarke, whose American accent, for some reason, increasingly wavers the more Gina’s sight is restored). True, he’s a bland type (he’s in insurance), but he works hard to make Gina’s life rewarding (a trip to Spain! A new house!) and performs energetically in their efforts to conceive a child.
It’s when the bandages come off and Gina can see again that the problems start. For one thing, she is a little disappointed in James’s looks. (Jason Clarke is a letdown? This is one of the many times the film strains credibility.)
Her disillusionment is not on a par with the ending of “City Lights” (1931), but it does not bode well. Also, their apartment seems a little bourgeois. In short, her eyesight empowers her to look at other opportunities and other men and James doesn’t like it. When a bondage scenario goes awry, James grows jealous and resentful and the film becomes preposterous.
“All I See Is You” resembles another overly ambitious, if far more original exploration of patriarchal power: Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” Unfortunately, in both cases the directors are more interested in showing off than in showing the evil that men do.
ALL I SEE IS YOU
Directed by Marc Forster. Written by Craig Baumgarten, Michael Selby, Jillian Kugler, and Forster. Starring Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Yvonne Strahovski, Danny Huston, Ahna O’Reilly, Wes Chatham. At Boston Common, suburbs. 110 minutes. R (strong sexual content/nudity and language).
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