Two young people living in very different parts of America discover that they have a psychic connection and confide in each other as life challenges both of them.
Brin Hill, 2014
One snowy winter, a little girl has a sledding accident and hits a tree; normally unremarkable, except that thousands of miles away a young boy passes out in class after seeing the accident. Years later and the children have grown up; Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) is unhappily married on the cold East Coast, while Southerner Dylan (Michael Stahl-David) struggles through a dull car-washing job while dodging trouble from his criminal friends and his parole officer. The connection they once felt as children unexpectedly opens again and they find they can communicate. They become one another’s confidantes, Rebecca confessing her troubled past and her isolated loneliness among her husband’s rich friends, while Dylan struggles through awkward dating and trying to move on from his own criminal history. The comfort they find in each other blossoms into an unusual romance, but bends under the pressure of real-life forces that threaten to tear them apart.
Written by Joss Whedon in the 90s, this film was made on a shoestring budget and released quietly about a week ago – to coincide with the film’s release at film festivals, it was made available to rent online at Vimeo. I’ll get to the review of the film itself in a moment, but I want to address this concept first. I think it’s amazing that some filmmakers are using the internet to get their movies out, and I am thrilled to be able to see this movie at the same time as festival goers. Having said that, I don’t think Vimeo is a good choice of delivery system. I rented and started watching this movie THREE DAYS before I finished watching it in its entirety due to connection problems with Vimeo. I’d advise a pay-to-download system rather than this streaming option, because holy hell was it hard to watch. Half the time it would freeze every minute or so; if I left it to load it would unexpectedly stop working and I’d have to refresh and start all over again. Not cool, Vimeo.
I am not a romantic drama kind of person. Anyone who knows me can tell you I am not a romantic drama kind of person. I hate being told to relate to unlikeable characters while unrealistic communication breakdowns get in the way of their True Love and some final act twist tries to manipulate me into crying with overbearing music and teary-eyed idiots confessing that they’ll die without each other. I tried this because it was Joss, and I think that’s the saving grace that really made me enjoy this film. Zoe Kazan’s fantastic, expressive face helped as well; that girl makes talking to the air look natural and effortless, and her struggle with herself is genuine and interesting. Michael Stahl-David acquits himself well as Dylan, too, whose charm, wit and humour comes through in spite of his self-destructive behaviour. The supporting cast is fine, nothing particularly special (although it is sweet that Jennifer Grey, star of Dirty Dancing and Clark Gregg’s wife, is in the film), though it’s hard to see why Rebecca married Mark Feuerstein’s conniving Phillip. The magic of the movie comes from the chemistry between its leads, despite the fact that they are, in fact, alone and talking to thin air. It’s a testament to their skill that they’re able to make the concept work so well.
The film makes use of its settings nicely, the warm orange of the dry South contrasting with the icy blue North. The locations are metaphors for each character’s lives, the overbearing heat vs. the creeping cold. The handheld and low-contrast camerawork leaves something to be desired, particularly in the overlay effect that shows the way they see through each other’s eyes, but the music is effective and there’s a slow build throughout the film (sometimes, admittedly, a little too slow). The film also examines class and gender issues and how they affect the leads; Rebecca feels powerless and fragile in her gilded cage, while Dylan struggles to overcome the life he’s grown up in, poor and surrounded by bad influences. It’s a cycle that’s almost impossible to break free from; the bonds of friendship become chains and soon enough he feels like he can’t put a foot right. There’s some clever dialogue and funny moments here as well, and although the third act feels a little too convenient and predictable considering the complicated world that’s been built around these characters, ultimately this is a compelling and engaging little movie that’s much bigger than its humble budget suggests.
In Your Eyes on IMDb