The future of one rocky relationship becomes clearer, in ‘All I See Is You’. Written and directed by Marc Forster, this psychological drama, defies genre to tell this obsessive love story. Gina (Blake Lively) & husband James (Jason Clarke) have an almost perfect marriage. After being blinded as a child in a nearly fatal car crash, Gina exclusively depends on James to feel and “see” the world around her, and it appears only to solidify their extremely passionate relationship. She envisions the world in her own vivid imagination with help from James’ descriptions. While the two enjoy a colorful existence living in Bangkok, their life and relationship are upended after Gina receives a corneal transplant & regains her sight. With her restored vision, Gina experiences the world with a new sense of wonder & independence which James finds threatening. It is only when Gina suddenly begins to lose her sight again that she finally realizes the disturbing reality of their marriage and their lives. ‘All I See Is You’ is rated R for strong sexual content/nudity, and adult language.
Not all meets the eye with ‘All I See Is You’, a film so void of story direction that it often walks into walls during the progression of its 105 minute runtime. Marc Forster’s newest film is one that has been on the shelf for nearly three years, shuffling from studio to studio before finally being buried in the late October graveyard of forgettable releases. Does this one live up to that syntax? Very much so. I don’t want to say that this film is pointless because there are a couple of positives that I want to mention later on, but this film struggles so repeatedly in finding a competently comfortable tone and story direction that fires on all cylinders creatively at the same time. Considering that this is written and directed by the same man, it’s appalling that this film has such a disconnect from one aspect of the film to the next, leaving each area of production scurrying in contradicting stances that makes it all feel like a vicious victim of the hack-and-slash surgical jobs that studios have been known to make when they lack the kind of confidence that comes with a big screen release.
First of all is the story so jumbled that it feels like our main character suffers from amnesia, as opposed to being blind. I say that because for about the first forty-five minutes of ‘All I See Is You’, I struggled to even find meaning in the visuals and events that I was being shown. At least within the first act of this movie I stayed committed to what little was actually transpiring, but the second and third acts elevate the benign stupidity tenfold. The tone deaf atmosphere immediately shifts from a dramatic tale of adversity to an almost acidic thriller without much context in between. Things happen between this couple that feels very shallow in where the film wants to take the decaying nature of their relationship, so much so that none of their arguments ever feel honest to me in their depictions. There’s a lot of unnecessary sex angles that the film deems necessary in taking advantage of its coveted R-rating, but leaving these aspects in offered very little exposition to where Forster takes us as a writer. The final ten minutes of the movie is so confusing that I had to look up the film on Wikipedia just for the explanation of everything that takes place in its cryptic movements that are sure to not satisfy even the most immersed moviegoers who have taken the unbelievable plunge of hanging on for this long.
The characters and performances are so over the top that it made for an extremely difficult task in supporting any one of them. Blake Lively is definitely the most passable if I had to pick one, but the biggest problem with her detail in being blind is that her eyes still very much move like a person who can see at all times. A great example of being blind in movies is Al Pacino in ‘Scent of a Woman’. Lively gives a lot of energy in her portrayal of Gina, but it’s clear that the limited direction doesn’t give her a lot of time to woo the audience into making this role her own. Jason Clarke again continues to confuse me, because in some films like ‘Lawless’ and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ he was great, but in ‘All I See Is You’ his character is so detestable even when he’s trying to be admirable that I kept hoping the film wouldn’t cut to him. There is an obvious stance that the film is trying to make with him taking advantage of Gina’s handicap, but even during moments of sincerity, Clarke’s bland personality pushed me to support Lively’s character even when she’s doing some less than flattering things.
Without question, the only thing that keeps my grade for the film being as high as it is, is in the impeccable artistic direction of Forester that provided some truly surreal point-of-view moments in the shoes of Gina. During these sequences of blurry detail, we get such beautifully decadent blasts of colorful eruption that is sure to please the art crowds aplenty. In addition to this, Forester also has his finger on the pulse of the colorful backdrops that envelope this film, blending in gorgeous props of flowers and exotic locations to really feed into Gina’s awakening back in. In fact, the biggest message that I took from the film didn’t come from the jaded screenplay or underdeveloped characters, but instead the artistic merit that hints subtly that we take advantage of the beauty in the world that we see every day. Sometimes the biggest gift is to stop and take it all in because some people aren’t granted the same liberty.
One weird side note that I couldn’t understand during the Gina POV shots was why the film blurs the sound to match the limited visuals that she is seeing. This gives off the impression that Gina is blind AND deaf at the same time, offering a confusing side to detail that the film over-convolutes for its own rules. The sound itself gives off an echo effect that some films can sometimes use to depict someone who is dazed or even underneath some kind of equipment like a helmet to distort what they are hearing. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but authenticity is everything to this critic, so I couldn’t understand why Gina’s limited visual capacity clouded her other senses that are supposed to be stronger because of the lack of vision. This wasn’t just a one time thing either, the entirety of the blind and near-sighted sequences engage in this aspect of production that makes absolutely zero sense with the rules that are easy enough to understand with this predicament from the get-go.
THE VERDICT – ‘All I See Is You’ is a visually stylish but materially empty psychodrama that superficially dissolves the many chances that is given to Forester to offer something compelling in its circumstance. The pretentious level is so high with this one that moviegoers will need to stick their noses directly up into the air to compliment its shallow delivery that goes nowhere fast. Lively was better suited swimming with the sharks literally, instead of doing it here figuratively.