Canadian filmmaker Kim Nguyen (Rebelle, Two Lovers and a Bear) returns to the festival with Eye on Juliet, another unlikely romance. Gordon (Joe Cole) is a robotics expert living in Detroit and operating sophisticated spider-like drones that can communicate with people in Northern Africa. Getting over a break-up and searching for meaning in life, Gord finds purpose when the drone’s camera lands upon Ayusha (Lina El Arabi), a young Muslim woman who wants to escape her country with her boyfriend to avoid an unwanted arranged marriage to another man.
Initially, Eye on Juliet has some warmth and wit, but unlike his previous films, Nguyen’s script races to get around to its point, forgetting to develop Gordon and Ayusha beyond basic archetypes. Scenes where locals interact with Gordon’s talking robot are charming and cheeky, but whenever Eye on Juliet attempts to get serious, things fall apart as a result of underdevelopment, and the last twenty minutes turn Nguyen’s story into a borderline icky romance the audience probably wishes it wasn’t.
Unlike his previous efforts, Nguyen seems to be courting mainstream appeal through making a charming motion picture, and he’s successful for the first two third before becoming one of the most tiresome and unearned crowd pleasers possible.
Is Eye on Juliet essential viewing?
I really wanted to like it, but this one collapses into unnecessary clichés just as it should be getting good.