BY BROOKE CORSO
“All I See Is You,” which is about a blind woman regaining her sight and then questioning her relationship with her husband, makes a concerted effort to place the audience within her point of view. Lights flash and spin, images dart in and out of focus, facial features are blurred. She is at the mercy of those who help her, or she is forced to be.
Director Marc Forster (“World War Z”) takes a melodramatic plot from a Sunday-night cable feature and tries to expand it to the big screen with bigger stars and more exotic locales, but it still retains the predictability of a movie of the week: suitable to watch while noshing away on popcorn but easy to spot where the characters are headed.
Blake Lively and Jason Clarke give solid performances against such lightweight material as Gina and James, an expat couple living in a beautiful high-rise apartment in Thailand. James is in insurance, while Gina is a homemaker and learns guitar from a young girl who lives in the building. Though she is almost totally sequestered in their apartment, Gina’s life is relatively ordered: she goes swimming at the nearby athletic club and can find her way to and from home and the surrounding environs. James is ever watchful, not so much because of her limitations but for her competence: it is obvious from the start that she can handle a lot more than he allows. When he is around her, he alternates between hovering over her, basically preventing her from fully utilizing her foldable cane, and wary almost to the point of intimidation by her confident, carefree dancing at a nightclub. Gina’s injury came from a terrible car accident in her youth which killed her parents, and though she is still haunted by nightmares, she does not allow past trauma to incapacitate her.
Though Gina wants to be more independent, the camera still focuses on her as an object: after sex with James, she takes a long, steamy shower; a neighbor across the street watches her in her living room; when she tapes an attempt at BDSM sex with James on a train, he obsessively watches it on his phone.
In the last example, James scrutinizes the footage for details not of their passion together, but of her distance and assumed disappointment. As the couple are trying to have a baby, his growing sense of inferiority and fear of infertility invade every aspect of the marriage. When Gina has the opportunity for a cutting-edge surgery to fix her vision, James is initially supportive, but as the procedure appears to be working, his apprehension grows.
While the first half of the film functions as a straight drama with flashy overtones of neon-soaked jump cuts and surreal imagery to indicate Gina’s claustrophobia and repressed sexuality , the second half jumps fully into a pulsating, sweaty sex dream as the couple celebrate Gina’s returning sight and try to recapture their honeymoon on a trip to Spain to visit Gina’s more libidinous sister and brother-in-law. Soon Carla (Ahna O’Reilly) and Ramon (Miguel Fernández) represent everything James is not and what he fears Gina wants: free-spirited, exhibitionist, sensual.
There’s a late-night trip to a sex show that feels empty and mechanical rather than titillating, despite Matthias Koenigswieser’s woozy cinematography and Carla and Ramon’s posturing.
As the eye surgeon (Danny Huston) specifically instructs Gina on her medications to prevent infection and rejection under the watchful eye of her husband, you can predict where the plot is headed. Kudos to Lively for negating any pity the viewer has for her character, as Gina is far too smart not to quickly figure out how her husband views her and their marriage. In addition, there is a young, virile swimmer (Wes Chatham) at the club who obviously likes Gina as much as he likes being young and virile.
Though the stifling interiors and colorful, stimulating streets of Bangkok reflect Gina’s evolving state of independence, regardless of sight, the erotic-thriller aspect of the latter half never quite shows James as anything more than a selfish, opportunistic jerk nor lifts Gina above her calm exterior. As the couple fractures apart, he cannot match her for intensity or vision, and the result falls flat.
‘All I See Is You’ (2017)
STARRING Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Ahna O’Reilly, Miguel Fernández, Xavi Sánchez
DIRECTOR Marc Forster
MPAA RATING R