Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

Article 4869 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-12-2015
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Featuring Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Dourif
Country: USA
What it is: American giallo

A fashion photographer who specializes in pictures that combine sex and violence discovers she has a psychic link with a serial killer who gouges his victims’ eyes out. Even worse, the targets of the killer are people in the photographer’s own inner circle…

I remember the media attention the movie received when it was first released in the late seventies, but I hadn’t thought about it for years until it popped up on my hunt list. It was only then that it occurred to me that the plot premise made it sound like an American version of the Italian “giallo” movie. As such, it is rather disappointing; though in some ways the movie is concerned with style, the direction is actually rather bland and ordinary for the most part. I do remember it being rather odd at the time that the theme song for the movie was being sung by Barbra Streisand though she didn’t appear in the movie (I gather this is the only movie where she does this in which she didn’t star). From reading the trivia section on IMDB, I discovered that she originally was intended for the title role, which eventually went to Faye Dunaway. Having seen it now, I wish Streisand had played the role; though I’m not a big Streisand fan, she would have brought a certain moxie to the role that would have made the title role a lot more interesting than it is here, and though Dunaway gives a professional performance, it’s not an inspired one and the character is rather dull. On the plus side, there’s a few good performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Dourif and Rene Auberjonois, and there’s a couple of interesting plot elements; I particularly like that the movie plays up the fact that when Mars is having her psychic visions, she is blind to her own environment. However, the script is weak; there are some scenes that seem silly and forced, and I felt it became glaringly obvious who the real killer was. The script was originally written by John Carpenter, but was rewritten later without his involvement. I’m afraid this one didn’t really work for me.

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