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Film Reviews Review: Kim Nguyen’s earnestness gets the better of him in Eye on Juliet

Lina El Arabi in Eye On Juliet.

SŽebastien Raymond

rating

  • Eye on Juliet
  • Written and directed by Kim Nguyen
  • Starring Joe Cole and Lina El Arabi
  • Rating 14A
  • 90 minutes

“Reach out and touch someone,” the long-distance telephone ads used to say.

But Gordon, a morose Detroiter trying to get over a bad breakup, knows technology has its limits. He spends his nights in a windowless office, monitoring video feeds beamed in from a collection of spider drones, crawling robotic devices that he operates as if in a real-life video game, that are guarding an oil pipeline outside a North African village.

During one shiftless shift, Gordon (Peaky Blinders’s baby-faced Joe Cole) eavesdrops on a lovers’ assignation amid the desert hills. Using the robot’s surveillance equipment and translation software, he realizes the couple are a modern-day Romeo and Juliet: Ayusha (Lina El Arabi, a veteran of another forced-marriage drama, A Wedding) has been promised by her parents to an older man. A true romantic in the swipe-right era of dating – albeit one with a creepy, voyeuristic bent – Gordon resolves to help them.

After the magical realism of his Arctic-set Two Lovers and a Bear and the Oscar-nominated child soldier drama Rebelle, Montreal-based writer-director Nguyen opts for a mildly ironic tack – all this communication technology, and we’re more disconnected than ever – but his earnestness gets the better of him. Like Gordon, he’s a romantic at heart. Though not as creepy, thank goodness.

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