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Eye of the beholder

Threat advisory: Severe - Severe risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Obsession is in the eye of the beholder

The Eye (Ewan McGregor), a lonely and isolated British intelligence agent who has lost his wife and daughter, blames his own unforgivable inaction. Yet detachment is part of the job. The Eye's current mission is to track Joanna Eris (Ashley Judd), a woman suspected of blackmailing the son of a senior British official. But Eris is far more than a blackmailer. She is a seductive, shadowy master of disguises, a frenzied murderer, a lost orphan and an abject mystery whose rage is as fierce as her beauty.

The Eye cannot help but be fascinated by Joanna - especially when a surveillance photo of her seems to reveal the ghostly image of his long lost daughter, whose absence haunts him. In his deepest fantasies, their two fates as lost souls are somehow connected. As he follows Joanna from murder to murder, the more The Eye finds that he needs to watch her. Not capture her. Not speak to her. But watch her, becoming inexorably more and more obsessed with what he sees. He shadows Joanna without ever letting her know he is there - except that sometimes unexpected turns of fate make it seem as if she has a guardian angel watching over her.

But the closer The Eye gets to Joanna's life, the more dangerous his fantasy becomes. Soon he begins to meddle in her existence, taking action, altering her fate. Yet to catch her would be to lose her, something the eye cannot allow again in his life. So the odyssey continues... until the pursuer and the pursued find themselves on a perilous crash course.

Also starring Jason Priestley as Gary, Geneviève Bujold as Doctor Brault, Patrick Bergin as Alex Leonard, kd Lang as Hilary, Charles Powell as Owen, Cara Reynolds as young Joanna, Sam Stone as the Alaskan Federal Agent and Janine Theriault as Nancy. Written by Stephan Elliott and Marc Behm, directed by Stephan Elliott.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Wow. If you were ever going to get a turn around from Priscilla, queen of the desert, this is it.

Eye of the beholder is a really tense, really dramatic study in psychosis and obsession. The characters are full of layers and motivations. The plot twists and turns more often than a garter snake on hot asphalt. The cinematography is rich and tasty. The performances are downright awesome.

I have been a dedicated fan of Ewan McGregor's since I first saw him in Shallow grave. Every film he has made since then (even A life less ordinary) has showcased a brilliant performance. I have always been ready to label him as one of the greatest actors of his generation but now will give him the title of "One of the greatest actors of all time". Eye of the beholder is a stunning performance of an insane man living in a sane world. As I said recently, the key to portraying insanity is to make the character indistinguishable from a sane person. Ewan does that so well that even his character thinks he's sane.

Ashley Judd takes a different approach. Her character is caught in a nightmare, tumbling down a dark hole and can't call for help. She has to make sure Joanna is a victim (an insane one, of course) so that The Eye can reach down to rescue her. (Two insane people are on the same level so they can't help each other up any further.)

The supporting cast give surprisingly solid performances. Jason's psycho sex fiend was so unexpected that I didn't recognise him until his scenes were almost over. kd lang breezes through a subtly complex character. Geneviève Bujold (the original Captain Janeway from Star trek: Voyager) is an intense bitch feminist from hell all the way down to her shakily painted toes.

Gosh, it's great to see hugely talented actors being given a really meaty script that they can get their teeth into. It's great to see a story that's like a thickening stew, chock full of carrots and potatoes (not the couch variety, of course) and even dumplings, the juices from the meat combining to form a warm, thick tasty broth... can you tell I haven't had dinner yet?

Eye of the beholder is a really, really, really good film that sucks you in and doesn't let you go. It plays with your mind, it plays with your heart and it plays with your soul. See it.

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (Medium level violence, drug use)

Surveillance time

101 minutes (1:41 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 14 February 2001

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