Saturday, May 9, 2020

Movie Reviews: Look Away

Look Away
directed by Assaf Bernstein
This 2018 movie is something that was another take on a very old idea-what if, tired of not getting what you want out of life, you could unleash all your darker instincts to attain all of your deepest desires? 

Would that be a good thing?  What if your deeper desires include things that actually disgust or horrify you? 

This goes back at least as far as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The viewer must decide whether this is a psychological thriller about a repressed id given free reign or about something supernatural unleashed from beyond the grave. Either way there are some very HEAVY Freudian/Elektra overtones, so if you don't care for or can't stand that sort of thing in your viewing entertainment then this film won't really do much for you. 

All the pervy psychological stuff aside, I thought that this movie was a little too heavy and dark. It moved slowly and ponderously because it had a lot of points to make. The director apparently doesn't believe in "show don't tell". Along with the moral darkness of much of the story the film itself is quite often physically murky. Maria Brennan (India Eisley) is an introverted shy "loser" high school student. Maria's on the verge of an eating disorder. 

Maria is a disappointment to her father, slim, watchful, and judgmental plastic surgeon Dan (Jason Issacs), whose idea of a birthday gift to his daughter involves, you guessed it, plastic surgery to correct Maria's "flaws". 

Maria's mother Amy (Mira Sorvino) is a bit more supportive but simply can't understand why her daughter is not more outgoing with more friends. Amy thinks life is for enjoying, something she's always telling Maria. However Amy is a trophy wife. 

The only way Amy enjoys life now is by pretending she doesn't know what her husband has been doing with some of his more attractive female clients. 

Maria is bullied or ignored by most of her schoolmates. Her only friend is Lily (Penelope Mitchell). Although Maria seems oblivious it's apparent that Lily only keeps her around from a combination of guilt and pity. Lily would much rather be hanging out with her boyfriend Sean (Harrison Gilbertson). Maria has goo-goo eyes for Sean, something that Lily has noticed.


When Maria is looking in the mirror one evening she notices that her reflection doesn't move the same way she does.

Before long she's talking to her reflection and her reflection is talking back. This occurs just after Maria found an old sonogram with a picture of twins. After an especially humiliating incident at school Maria is convinced by the reflection, who is named Airam, to let her out. She'll control Maria's body for a while. Ariam will make some changes so that both of them have better lives. What could go wrong?

I appreciated the idea that we may all have hidden desires that we don't even admit to ourselves let alone to other people. And yes unaddressed trauma can pop up at the most inopportune times. But this was a little more intense than I was looking for at the time.

Eisley is pretty strong in her role. She has to play two completely different people who happen to share the same body. There is violence and full frontal nudity. This would have been a better movie if it had tightened up the pacing.
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