Friday, 10 June 2011

Los ojos de Julia / Julia's Eyes

 Tonight was my first visit to the Queen’s Film Theatre and despite my justified fear that they would sense I am not a graduate of the university they did not throw me out of the auditorium in an overdramatic fashion.

They say timing is everything and it was just shear luck that I stumbled upon the QFT in time for their showing of Julia’s Eyes.

You will all know by now that the love I have for Guillermo del Toro is equalled by my love for all things Spanish so it is embarrassing to admit that Julia’s Eyes was my first Spanish language cinematic experience.

PLOT:  Julia (Belen Rueda) and her estranged twin sister Sara both have a degenerative disease which causes blindness.  After Sara’s apparent suicide Julia returns home and discovers that the death of her sister may not be as straightforward as it seems.  The stress of events brings on an attack of blindness and Julia undergoes an eye transplant by way of a donor.  Julia returns to her sister's home to recover under the care of her nurse Ivan, and becomes convinced that the person who was after her sister is now coming after her.  There is darkness. There are scares.  I have now been motivated to finally go and get my eyes tested.  END PLOT

The plot is fairly standard for a thriller but the scares are heightened by the fact Julia is completely blind for the latter half of the film.  The idea of losing your sight is scary enough but to find that you are unable to defend yourself from what is essentially a crazy stalker turns out to be terrifying.  There are enough twists and turns though to keep interest levels high - I didn’t piece the puzzle together until it was played out before me - there were no wild (yet accurate) guesses thrown out ala The Orphan.

What saves Julia’s Eyes from becoming another run of the mill thriller is the performance of Belen Rueda - she was fantastic in The Orphanage but in Julia’s Eyes she upped her game.  In lesser hands Julia would have been reduced to a blond bimbo running around in a suspiciously revealing nightgown but Rueda kept her performance grounded and real the entire time.  It will take something special to beat her performance this summer and if it doesn’t happen I wont be surprised.

The villain is human, there are no supernatural elements involved at all which is unusual for a del Toro (presented) film.  The villain does ham up the wide-eyed craziness towards the end but there are genuine levels of creepiness in there too.

I try not to comment on how a film is shot in too much detail as I usually end up sounding like an idiot but Julia’s Eyes was very drained of colour and a lot of the film takes place at night or in dimly lit rooms.  The lack of light and colour really ramped up that unavoidable fear which comes with being in complete darkness.

The action was tense although not particularly violent.  The scares were all enhanced by Rueda’s performance and reacting to the sounds around her.  It is not often I will physically look away from the screen but there is one brief moment with an eye and a needle that I just couldn’t watch.

I would be hard pressed to find something I didn’t like about Julia’s Eyes as I absolutely loved it.  I have yet to see a Spanish or del Toro film I haven’t immediately fallen in love with and Los ojos de Julia as done nothing to dampen the reputation of either. 

It’s doesn’t happen too often during the year and it never happens with back to back cinema trips but Julia’s Eyes get 10/10. 

Naomi Watts is sitting intently by her phone awaiting the announcement of the remake as we speak………..


  1. sound like a good flick is it viewable in english?

  2. Yes I've heard it isn't to shabby!! I absoltuely loved The Orphanage, it was so bloody creepy and made my skin crawl.
    I'm just wondering if this wil actually play here because the main stream theatre doesn't play anything witha wiff of sub-titles.
    It is about time Del Toro got off his butt and made another film. He isn't particularly prodigious is he? I know the problesm with The Hobbit saw him fall behind on is schedule. Anyway am looking forward to this with abated breath!!

  3. I'm geting must be age catching up!! [film}girl,interupted wrote a review on Pan's Labyrinth several days ago if you are interested. I have a link if you need it.

  4. Roy: The film in the cinema will be in Spanish with English subtitles. If you can cope with the subtitles I would check it out if only because the Spanish language is really nice to listen to as it is so lyrical. If subtitles aren't for you, you may be able to get a dubbed dvd when it is released.

    Brent: Los ojos de Julia tops The Orphanage if only because of Rueda's performance - she was amazing. We saw this at the QFT which is the cinema I was telling you about which shows all the older/foreign films. They are showing Senna soon and we are hoping to go back to see it. They are quite nice as they retweeted my review on twitter!

    If del Toro made films more often they would be most welcome! He is still working on The Hobbit and Pinocchio as a writer so he isn't making his own films at the minute which is a shame. He does have Pacific Rim due out in 2013 but it appears to be in early stages of pre-production and time will tell if he actually goes through with it.

    Yeah, send me the link to the blog. Pans Labyrinth is one of my all time favourites so it would be good to check it out

  5. It sounds like it had a hint of Film Noir...that would make it spell binding...I love those types of films...I am really impressed when I can not figure out the plot or what is going on. That for me is the essence of a good film....and add a little supernatuarl...I am hooked....

    I am films..especially good ones.

  6. I was expecting a supernatural element to the film but it never came - it's all human and I think it works all the better for it as it kept the fear real.

    Thanks for reading and following!

    K :-)


  8. It isn't too shabby a write up is it?! Pity is though is she hasn't been replying to the comments people leave and hasn't been doing so for some weeks now.

  9. This sounds like something that'd be right up my ally K, congrats on your first trip to the arthouse theater!

  10. Brent: It was a good write up. I might try and review it sometime along the line but I wouldn't do it justice

    D: It was such a good film - when it comes your way you should check it out! The cinema is run by the university my friends graduated from so there was much teasing that I would be thrown out for not being a Queen's graduate but I brazened it out. We will definitely be going back! I'm getting so cultured in my old age lol!