Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

IRVIN KERSHNER

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.   

USA, 1978, Story by , Screenplay by John Carpenter, Cinematography by .   Produced by .   Music by  .   Production Design by .   Costume Design by .   Film Editing by .

Faye Dunaway has all the style and dazzle necessary for this fun excursion in woman-in-peril thrillers that loses its grip with a disappointing ending.  She plays a controversial photographer whose new images mixing glamour with gory violence evokes strong reactions at her latest gallery opening.  The dangers depicted in her pictures visit her life quickly as the people in her life start being viciously murdered by being stabbed in the eyes, simultaneous with a disturbing phenomenon that is happening to her: she shares the vision of the killer right before he murders someone and she is forced to see it happen.  She fears for her own safety when she realizes that when she is the killer’s prey, she is taken over by their vision instead of own and it makes it feel impossible to run away.  Thankfully, a love affair with the police officer investigating the case (Tommy Lee Jones) helps her feel safe, but can he protect her from someone who is so closely linked to her?  No expense is spared on style in a film whose production designer is as vicious as its villain, you too would take a knife in the eyeball to own one of those couches, but as we progress towards the end, it appears that the aesthetics are there to hide a painful lack of substance and Dunaway’s intense work is wasted on a plot that paints by numbers by the time it reaches its underwhelming conclusion.  Based on a treatment by John Carpenter, whose script was rewritten after it was purchased by the studio, this one would have benefited from his darker imagination instead of the humdrum thrills we have here, but the parts of it that work (including the scenes of her creating her fashion photos, which were actually done by Helmut Newton) still make it well worth checking out.

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