JULIA’S EYES ( MA15+) ★★★■ Director: Guillem Morales ( The Uncertain Guest) Stars: Belen Rueda, Lluis Homar, Pablo Derqui, Francesc Orella Seeing is deceiving
WHILE the name of Guillermo Del Toro ( Pan’s Labyrinth) is to the fore of production credits for Julia’s Eyes, this solid Spanish thriller is clearly in thrall to the works of the great Alfred Hitchcock.
Nothing wrong with wearing a classic influence on your sleeve, but surely Hitchcock would have exerted a tighter grip on the editing.
Even the most ardent admirer would freely admit there’s a clear half-hour of padding that should have hit the cutting-room floor.
Belen Rueda ( from the excellent 2007 spooker The Orphanage) has the lead role of Julia, a woman in her 30s who is slowly going blind because of a degenerative condition.
Julia’s twin sister, Sara ( also played by Rueda, pictured), was also struck with the same illness, which exacted such a heavy psychological toll she took her own life after a last-ditch operation failed. Or so the story goes.
Julia refuses to concede her identical sibling would have killed herself.
With her own sight beginning to fade, she starts to investigate an inkling that Sara’s death might be linked to a mysterious stalker-like figure.
Writer-director Guillem Morales creates an ever-dreadful atmosphere, jangling the nerves of viewers at every opportunity.
Perhaps he does ring the false-alarm bells at least twice too often as Julia’s Eyes stumbles aimlessly into its generously paced final act.
The anchoring performance of Rueda is what keeps this second-hand material fresh and forcefully involving.