Saturday, October 06, 2018

Eyes of Laura Mars




Directed by Irvin Kershner and screenplay by John Carpenter and David Zelag Goodman from a story by John Carpenter, Eyes of Laura Mars is the story of a fashion photographer who is known for shooting violent images starts to see things through the eyes of a killer. The film is a suspense-thriller that play into the mind of a woman who is dealing with what she is seeing as her own life starts to unravel. Starring Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Dourif, Raul Julia, Michael Tucker, and Rene Auberjonois. Eyes of Laura Mars is a thrilling but underwhelming film from Irvin Kershner.

A controversial yet revered fashion photographer known for creating macabre images in her work finds herself seeing murders happening through the eyes of a killer who are targeting those that she knows. With the help of a detective, she would try and find the killer while falling for the man who is protecting her. It’s a premise that is intriguing and simple yet it would fall apart due to its screenplay as would play into the things that the titular character (Faye Dunaway) would see as there are suspects on who could be the killer. The script unfortunately doesn’t do enough to maintain that intrigue where the audience can get an idea on who it might be while there is also this love story between Laura Mars and the detective Lieutenant John Neville (Tommy Lee Jones) that occurs in the middle of the film that feels tacked on and brings a lot of ideas about who is killing her as he is first introduced at one of her galleries criticizing her work to her unaware of who she is.

Irvin Kershner’s direction does have its moments in terms of the visuals and establishing the locations into what Laura sees through her strange psychic visions. Shot on location in New York City and parts of New Jersey, Kershner’s direction does have some unique compositions such as the photoshoots that Laura creates with some unique wide and medium shots along with the usage of close-ups to play into the visions that she sees. There are some visual tricks that Kershner would use to play into Laura’s visions that are blurry as it plays from the point-of-view of the killer yet it becomes repetitive as the story progresses. The film’s screenplay definitely hinders Kershner’s approach to the suspense as it includes a third act where Lt. Neville finds a suspect but had also fallen for Laura which complicates things as it tries to be thrilling but it doesn’t do enough to be ambiguous. Even in the reveal where it doesn’t have the impact it should’ve had as it is over-the-top and ridiculous that includes a monologue that reveals too much. Overall, Kershner crafts a film that starts off well only to fumble big time in its second half in a half-baked film about a woman who sees murders through the eyes of a killer.

Cinematographer Victor J. Kemper does excellent work with the cinematography to play into some of the visuals in the way the gallery looks along with some of the exteriors for scenes set in the day and night. Editor Michael Kahn does nice work with the editing as it does have bits of style to play into the suspense with its cuts of what Laura sees from the killer’s point of view. Production designer Gene Callahan, with set decorator John Godfrey and art director Robert Gundlach, does fantastic work with the look of the gallery as well as Laura’s home and the studio where she does some of her photo shoots.

Costume designer Theoni V. Alderedge does brilliant work with the costumes in the clothes that Laura wears along with the models and her friends wear. Sound editor Charles L. Campbell does terrific work with the sound as it does play into the atmosphere of the suspense including scenes in some of the film’s locations. The film’s music by Artie Kane is good for its orchestral score that play into the film’s suspense and drama while music supervisor Charles Koppelman provides a fun soundtrack that is filled with some disco music but also a lame and overwrought love ballad sung by Barbra Streisand.

The film’s superb cast include some notable small roles and appearances from Michael Tucker as an associate of Mars in Bert, Lisa Taylor and Darlanne Fluegel as a couple of models of Mars in their respective roles as Michelle and Lulu, Meg Mundy as a friend of Mars in Doris Spenser, Rose Gregorio as another friend of Mars in Elaine, and Frank Adonis as a detective who helps Lt. Neville in the case in Sal Volpe. Raul Julia is terrific in a brief yet memorable performance as Mars’ ex-husband Michael Reisler as a man who is an initial suspect of the murders though he had been dating one of Mars’ friends and is dealing with failure of his work as a writer. Rene Auberjonois is fantastic as the flamboyant Donald Phelps as a friend of Mars who also handles her business as well as try to figure out how to deal with the presence of the killer.

Brad Dourif is superb as Tommy as Mars’ driver who definitely has the look of being a suspect as he is someone that doesn’t like Phelps while always carrying a knife as he has the many obvious traits in being the killer. Tommy Lee Jones is pretty good in the film whenever he’s being charming and cunning in the role of the Lt. John Neville yet it is the moments where Neville and Mars fall for each other that doesn’t work as Jones is just miscast as the romantic. Finally, there’s Faye Dunaway in an excellent performance as the titular character as it’s a performance that has Dunaway display the anguish and fear of what she’s seeing though there’s moments that the script doesn’t do her any favors where she doesn’t do enough to break out of the conventions of suspense while she and Jones don’t really have any chemistry in the romantic scenes.

Despite its ensemble cast, some gorgeous visuals, and an intriguing premise, Eyes of Laura Mars is a film that starts off well only to falter by its conventions in the genre and not enough trust into unveiling the killer in the end. Even as its attempt to be this giallo-inspired film from someone like John Carpenter who understands the genre only to have his script play into cheap scares and a stupid ending. In the end, Eyes of Laura Mars is just a hackneyed and disappointing film from Irvin Kershner.

© thevoid99 2018

2 comments:

Wendell Ottley said...

Haven't seen this one. Guess I won't bother with it.

thevoid99 said...

@Wendell-It starts off well but once you start to make some guesses into who the killer is. You kind of figure it out halfway into the film which is something audiences shouldn't have to do. Plus, I just can't buy Tommy Lee Jones as a romantic and he's someone I don't want to see in romantic scenes. I just prefer him as the tough guy or the funny old man. Not as a lover. Ew...