Tuesday, 23 November 2010

LEEDS FILM FEST REVIEW: The Invisible Eye


The Invisible Eye will always be a memorable film for me – not because of its quality, but for the fact that the whole screen sold out and in my desperate need to watch it I chose to sit down ON THE FLOOR on the cinema at the front and watch the whole shebang from there. I do not recommend anyone ever try this. It made me feel physically ill. Never slag off being on the front row in a cinema again because believe me there is WORSE.

And if this film had been an absolute howler it probably would have been the worst experience of my life (although I like to hope I would have had the sense to walk out of it halfway through). But thankfully it wasn’t. It was a grim watch though, with no sweet and light to take away the neck pain and bile in my throat that came with my seating position. Set in 1980s Argentina, Marita is a young teaching assistant in a school where every miniscule action made by any one person is being watched by the thousands of eyes around them. Marita must be that ‘invisible eye’ – survey the pupils she is guiding, and report any irregularities or blatant misbehaviour to the headmaster, Mr Biasutto: “call me Carlos.” – the creepiest and most hateful character I’ve seen at this year’s LIFF.

It’s clever in the fact that everyone is watching each other. In her zest to be a model employee Marita’s surveillance of the pupils becomes tainted when she becomes attracted to one of the young boys. Clearly inexperienced and confused by her feelings (she is identified as a virgin at a party because her skin is like paper) she begins to slide down the slippery slope to infatuation, and does things out of desperation which are degrading and quite uncomfortable to watch – you don’t know whether to laugh uneasily or just turn away from the screen. Whilst all this is happening Biasutto is watching Marita. At first he tries to coax and charm her, but when he realises she has been ‘spying on young boys in the toilets’ his actions and behaviour towards Marita becomes abhorrent and leads to a devastating climax.

There is something empty about The Invisible Eye. It’s not something I could tell when watching the film (I was too preoccupied with being ill), it dawns upon you afterwards when you’re struggling to find words to describe and rate the film other than, “well that was a bit grim.” Marita is quite a meek character, and so other than a few bedtime convos with her grandma we don’t see her express herself other than by her appearance and her actions. She’s a hard one to crack, to get involved with (although by the end you are completely on her side). The atmosphere of the school feels very sterile as well because of the forced oppression and obedience. It’s shot very well (use of the black and white chequered marble courtyard stands out) but it doesn’t come together in a completely satisfying way.

A good film if it does come your way but not remarkable. I do hope you get to see it on a comfy sofa, too!

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