julia's eyes | guillem morales | oriol paulo | belen rueda | lluis homar | pablo derqui | mystery | thriller | spain | psychological | medical | francesc orella | joan dalmau | julia gutierrez caba | boris ruiz | dani codina | andrea hermosa | daniel grao | neo-giallo
Film: Julia’s Eyes
Director: Guillem Morales
Writer: Guillem Morales and Oriol Paulo
Starring: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar and Pablo Derqui
This was a film that I’ll be honest, I never heard of until Duncan over on the Podcast Under the Stairs selected this for May 2020’s Movie Club Challenge. I decided to come into this blind, no pun intended, as I don’t like to have any preconceived notions ahead of time. I’ve now given this a second viewing as part of the Summer Challenge Series for the 2010’s for TPUTS as well. To get into this then, the synopsis is the story of a woman who is slowly losing her sight whilst trying to investigate the mysterious death of her twin sister.
We start this movie off with Sara (Belén Rueda). She’s in a dark room and calling out to one of the corners. She states that she hates the loud song that is playing. We don’t see anyone though. Her eyes are extremely blue, signifying that she is blind. She goes down into the basement, removes her shoes and finds a stool in the middle of the room. She climbs on it and puts the noose around her neck. We then see there is someone in the room. They take a picture, the power goes out. This person kicks the stool from underneath her.
It then shifts over to the Hubble Telescope facility where Julia Levin (Rueda) falls down in a choking fit. She immediately knows something is wrong with her twin sister. Along with her husband, Isaac (Lluís Homar), they head there and discover what looks like a suicide.
Inspector Dimas (Francesc Orella) heads up the investigation and everything he finds points to what it looks like, that Sara killed herself. Julia and Isaac reveal through conversation, both sisters have a degenerative condition that causes them to slowly lose their sight. It appears that it happened more rapidly for Sara and the conclusion is she killed herself as she couldn’t live with being blind forever.
Julia starts to find clues that lead her to a blind, elderly woman Soledad (Julia Gutiérrez Caba) then to the Baumann Center for the blind and to a hotel where her sister stayed right before her passing away. She meets other people that give her some insight into her sister. It appears that she had a boyfriend, but no one really seems to know what he looked like. Créspulo (Joan Dalmau), a handyman at the hotel, refers to him as the ‘invisible man’. Julia also believes this man is following her to cover up evidence. The question though, what really happened to Sara? Is Julia right or is she descending into madness from her condition and grief.
There’s where I want to leave this recap and my initial thoughts about this movie are that we really have a tale of two films. That’s not to say I feel they’re completely different, because that’s not the case. We get an investigation film where Julia can’t take the easy explanation that she is given and then it becomes an extremely suspenseful film in the second half. I do have to give credit here as well. This really does pay a solid homage to Alfred Hitchcock with what we have here.
As I was saying above, we get almost a giallo film here from Spain. Julia gets a feeling that something happened to her sister, but she cannot prove it. The police give her an explanation and she doesn’t buy it. She does have some evidence though. An example of this is there’s a song playing when the power comes back on that her sister hates, she doesn’t believe her sister would be listening to music when she killed herself. She knows that she didn’t want to be blind, but doesn’t feel she would do what she did. This then leads her to more and more evidence that backs her up. What I like though is that we have Isaac and Inspector Dimas as the grounded ones. When she presents it, there are logic arguments against all of it. You have to believe Julia to see how all of the evidence fits together and I dig that aspect of the movie.
There’s an interesting flip that we get here. Julia seems to aggravate her condition by pushing herself and then she has to get the same surgery that her sister did. She is then assigned a nurse to watch over her, Iván (Dani Codina). What I like here is that we know something is up, since Julia cannot see his face, neither can we. The cinematography here was amazing to frame things certain ways to prevent this. We also get this as she finally gets to meet Lía (Andrea Hermosa) as well. This plays with our minds that made me question if this girl was real or in Julia’s head. This was very well done and it does build tension that made my anxiety rise all the way until the climax
There’s also this story about this ‘invisible man’. We get to see that someone is following her pretty early on. What I love though is that Créspulo tells of this man and that he’s worked hard to not be notice and that he is angry. I thought this was an interesting idea and we get to see it play out as well. There are so many moving parts though that it makes you question if this person really does exist or not. We see the person, but again, is he real or does Julia want him to be real? The explanation here I did pick up, but there is a bit more I was that was fleshed out.
Not all of this worked for me though unfortunately. I do think that the movie runs a bit long for my liking. It comes in just shy of 2 hours and there’s probably at least 15 minutes of this that could have been trimmed to tighten this movie up. Don’t get me wrong though. I don’t want you to think this movie is boring, as that is not the case. There’s just some such that almost feels like filler and some things just aren’t explained for me which if you’re going to go that long, I needed a bit more in other places than where it focused.
Shifting this over to the acting, I did think that it was pretty strong. We really only get Rueda as Sara in that opening sequence and then she’s Julia from that point on, which I thought worked well. She does enough to make both characters different, but also kind of similar. I did like Homar as her rock who tries to keep her grounded, but she is determined so there’s only so much he can do. Orella is kind of similar in this as well. Pablo Derqui does solid in the role that he plays. He’s disarming, but there’s just something that’s off about him. It is also strategic that we really don’t see him until the last part of the movie. There is a subtle introduce that Ángel exists, but if you’re not paying attention, you miss it. I would then say the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed as well.
The last thing to go over would the effects of the movie, which I thought were pretty good. There’s not really a lot in the way of kills, but it’s not that type of movie. This movie is basing on the fact that these people killed themselves or died by an accident. That helps with the mystery. I think the ones that we get look pretty real and I’d bet that they were done practically as well. If they weren’t, they really did look like it. The one that impressed me the most was one later in the movie in the kitchen with a knife. We don’t see it play out, but we see the aftermath and it kind reminded me of Halloween. I do like the effects they do with people’s eyes as well when they’re blind. I’m assuming this is done with CGI and I think it works well as an enhancement for sure. I’ll give credit again here to the cinematography as well, it is one of the strongest parts of this movie.
With that said, I did still really like this movie. I thought that it presented an interesting mystery here that has a lot of layers to it. I like that the first half feels similar to a giallo of having a mystery to figure out what happened to Sara, even though everyone around Julia thinks she killed herself. The second half is interesting in that Julia loses her sight and it handicaps her. This then becomes suspense filled where we can’t see certain things since she can’t and knowing who to believe. The acting is really good and the effects we got were pretty solid as well. I do think that this runs a bit long and the soundtrack didn’t really stand out. It doesn’t hurt it though in my opinion though either. I’d say that this is a good movie and one that I would be willing to see again to see if I missed anything as well.
My Rating: 8 out of 10