Review: All I See Is You (2017)


Director Marc Forster (Stranger Than Fiction, World War Z) directs this film starring Blake Lively and Jason Clarke in a drama about whether the grass is greener on the other side when given the opportunity to cross the line.

It goes without saying that Blake Lively has a tremendous amount of big-screen charisma. Even in films like Savages and Green Lantern, Lively manages to make her characters feel alive and relatable and a big part of that is what keeps All I See Is You from completely drowning in a slough of its character’s ennui and unhappiness.

Lively plays Gina, an American expatriate living in Thailand with her husband James (Jason Clarke). Gina spends her days teaching Thai children music and guitar and wistfully thinking of better days. You see Gina is blind, having lost her sight in a tragic accident at an early age. She is dependent on her husband James for security and companionship, but wishes she could have more and pursues an opportunity for a corneal transplant that would allow her to see. James is supportive, but at the same time, controlling and and conservative. He doesn’t like to dance and prefers his life as a homebody while Gina still wants to dance and be a normal person. Throughout the early part of the film, he does things like step aside to leave Gina alone at a club to show her how helpless she is and how easier it is to just have the two of them against the world. But once Gina gets her sight, she starts to literally see the world differently and imagines how things could be better and how much she has missed. A celebratory vacation to Spain serves to further open Gina’s eyes and awaken her to possibilities, both figuratively and sexually, and she starts to look for opportunities to divorce herself from her own life.

In many ways, Forster’s film is ugly and beautiful. Like 2017’s The Ticket, it supposes that someone suffering from a disability will start looking for a way to better themselves from their previous condition and upgrade their partner and life as soon as the situation presents itself. Forster’s heavy handedness with Clarke’s character James is there to try and show Gina could be better off without him, but at the same time, the two seem driven more by plot than feelings. The film’s cinematography is the true star of the film. Cinematographer Matthias Koenigsweiser creates a beautiful film, with vivid colors and beautiful vistas shot in Spain and Thailand that show how Gina is seeing the world for the first time. This suffers at times when Forster early in the film uses “Daredevil”-esque vision effects to try and show us how Gina sees as a blind woman. This effect which just seems jarring and doesn’t really work and it telegraphs the plot a bit too much as we can see the quality of her vision by the fidelity of the effect. That being said, the film is also a throwback to films like Atom Egoyan’s Exotica or Soderberg’s The Girlfriend Experience in that it feels like we’re seeing something intimate but ultimately wrong

In the end, All I See Is You doesn’t really work. The characterization is too forced by plot demands and seems inorganic; dictated by a need to move the story forward and not its character’s inner lives. James’ controlling behavior is there just to set a tone and move a beat forward and Gina’s dissatisfaction with her life just doesn’t ring true. It feels like like we’re seeing Lively act, more than we are seeing this character of Gina on the big screen. Disappointing on that level and just doesn’t recover with an overly moralistic ending.

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