Directed by John Schlesinger. USA. 1996.

Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk







About Us



We are proud of our own here in Canada. For infamy or genuine talent (and sometimes both) we will take the accomplishments of our homelanders and brag about them to anyone who'll listen. "Sure, you might have a functioning space program," we'll say, "but where do you think that guy who plays Austin Powers come from?" Then when they look blank, we can pelt them with a timbit, and stride briskly away. We like to extol our Mike Myers' and our Jim Carrey's (though after the snooze fest that was The Majestic I won't be hurrying back to the theatre any time soon) and talk about how hysterical they are. Sometimes, it becomes more personal. 

Sometimes, the flashes of celebrity come from your home province. That is why, I make it my own mission to make sure every single one of my circle of friends sees each and every one of the Sutherland families' movies. (Dad, Donald is from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.) My friends go either because they are actually keen to see the film (Dark City) or to make me leave them alone (recent midnight showing of Young Guns II). I've pushed them through the gates for The Lost Boys, and A Time to Kill. Most recently I've corrupted video night with an unannounced showing of Eye for an Eye.

Eye for an Eye is the story of the moralities of vengeance. In the opening scenes you're introduced to a beautiful loving family preparing for a birthday party, only to have that serenity ripped apart by a random act of violence. The injustices of the legal system, and the struggles with thoughts of revenge, provide the uncomfortable thrust to this film, while the attempts to keep the family from ripping apart provide its' heart.

It's a rare thing for an actor to be courageous enough to play a truly unlike able character. Desperate not to damage their career they tend to infuse them with a last minute dash of charm, (as Mel Gibson did in Payback) but Kiefer Sutherland (The Bay Boy, Stand By Me) absorbs the killer's, Robert Doob's, persona bravely, making him creepy, soulless, and tough to watch. (However, he is sympathetic in that psychotic killer would be the only career option available to one who would have sustained the incredible quantity of mental anguish caused by going through junior high school with a name like Bob Doob.) Sutherland makes him an unusual portrait by making him 100% remorseless, showing no regret when engaging in violence, and no boundaries in who he'll attack. I saw this movie for the first time with two horror movie veterans, able to scarf down popcorn while watching people get hacked into bits with chainsaws. It speaks volumes to the intensity of Sutherland's performance that he made these two so uncomfortable that every time he appeared onscreen they were compelled to leave the theatre to go get snack refills.

Sally Field (Soapdish, Norma Rae) plays the bereaved mother, Karen McCann. She had a very difficult job to do in this movie, making someone out to commit an act of revenge sympathetic, and while you can understand her anger, she just is not a likeable character. Her performance is definitely believable, it's simply that she seems to be the only performer in the film who is wandering through, blissfully unaware of the statement that it's making. Eye for an Eye is trying to examine the motivations and aftermath of a random act of violence, and Field doesn't allow for any emotion to enter her role save for revenge. Unlike the parents of the victim in Dead Man Walking, there's no room allowed in Field's McCann for care for her daughter and love for her husband. She is wholly disdainful. Different types of violence bother me more than others. Random acts scare me to death, for they could happen to anyone, anywhere. This subject in the hands of a character actress, (Kristen Scott Thomas, or even, on the outside, a Nicole Kidman) would have made this movie almost unbearable brutal. Field's nuances are detrimental enough to take the power away from the incredible actors supporting her (the aforementioned Sutherland, and Ed Harris).

It is the ending of Eye for an Eye that truly affects you, by neatly dividing up the audience into two groups, those who agree with the actions of Karen McCann, and those who don't (I fall into the non-violent half). The final scenes of this movie gripped everyone in my living room, prompted a debate that lasted for an hour, but most of all left everyone watching with a very tough question to answer....

What would you have done?

Jen Johnston
Search this site or the web        powered by FreeFind
Site searchWeb search

   Home | News | Features
    Book Reviews | About Us