Eye of the Beholder (1999) Poster

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The DVD alternate ending makes a BIG difference
Buff200110 January 2004
I had not seen this movie when originally released because of bad reviews. I did however recently pick up the DVD in the $5.99 rack at Target mainly because I really like Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd. They did do their usual fine job of acting but I must admit that the plot was convoluted and illogical and the first time through watching it normally, I was disappointed in the lingering confusion.

I then watched the one deleted scene and the alternate ending and it changed my whole perspective. Sometimes alternate endings do not really change much but this was the most dramatically different alternate ending I have ever seen. It wrapped up everything for me and made the whole thing crystal clear and satisfying.

I can not imagine why they left out this long segment that does not so much result in an alternate ending per se, but rather fills in a lot of the holes that I had in my head. It is worth your time to rent the DVD and see this alternate ending. It may change your mind about the movie.
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My interpretation
tony-clifton24 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
First, I'd like to say that I am sick and tired of reading reviews from people who don't apply their brains to interpret a movie, who watch a movie expecting a cliched Hollywood plot that has been rehashed over and over. Is it so hard to appreciate a movie that is different? Does every movie have to have a huge exploding climax and a fairy-tale ending? Don't you suppose some things in life don't work out that way? I appreciate this movie for telling a story that is different - it's so sad that people are so narrow-minded. *rant over*


Okay, here is my interpretation of the film, since legions of people have reviewed this film not understanding it. It is my interpretation, and since I have not read the book on which this story is based - it is therefore not necessarily accurate.

The Eye is hired to watch Joanna, and he is supposed to catch her in something. During which, the Eye sees a physical likeness of her to his daughter whom he lost when his wife left him. While he tails Joanna, he learns her sad story of how she lost her father and this triggers some sort of psychological connection with her - since he lost her daughter.

Joanna meets a blind rich man named Leonard, and because he can't see her and therefore she feels that he can't see her phoniness and is not attracted to the phony image she portrays when others fall in lust with her, she trusts him inherently and eventually falls in love with him. She proposes to him, and he accepts.

At this point, one is not sure whether the Eye is in love with Joanna since his hallucination of his daughter asks if he is jealous to which he affirms. Nevertheless, the Eye tries to stop them from getting married and inadvertently causes them to have a car accident and Leonard dies.

Joanna goes on the run again, and checks into a hotel. A detective who has been following her enters her hotel room, and she shoots him and runs off hurriedly. The Eye manages to extract a pubic hair from the bathtub and finds out her real name. The Eye then goes to a correction facility where Joanna used to go as a young girl and meets Dr Jeanne who explains her past, and that she taught Joanna some of her survival skills.

Joanna's car breaks down and she gets picked up by Gary and they stay over at a motel. Gary tries to get her on drugs but she refuses and Gary gets violent on her, kicking her and killing Leonard's child which was growing inside her. The Eye comes into save her, but as he gets rid of Gary, he goes back to the motel and finds Joanna has run off again.

With the help of Hilary, the Eye tracks Joanna down at a hospital and learns that Joanna lost her baby. While she is sleeping, he puts on his wife's wedding ring on her finger - which of course implies that he sees his wife's likeness in Joanna.

Joanna learns that someone was tracking her and helping her, and almost catches the Eye as he was tailing her. She gets surrounded by police who have tracked her down - and the Eye risks his life to let her get away. Joanna flees to Alaska and finally the Eye meets Joanna face to face although Joanna doesn't know yet that the Eye is her "guardian angel". The police use Dr Jeanne to try and identify Joanna when they track her down to the diner where Joanna works - but Dr Jeanne refuses to divulge Joanna. The Eye once again rescues her, by asking her to flee in his car.

When they are in the Eye's trailer, it dawns on her that the Eye is her guardian angel, and she is so scared she shoots the Eye with the gun that the Eye already set up for her to use (containing blanks). She drives off in his car, and he chases her on a motorbike. She crashes and he pulls her out of the car, and finally Joanna comes to accept her guardian's true identity - having remembered all the times where she saw his face briefly.

At this point, it is implied that they get together - but it is all left to your imagination. The Eye feels that he has redeemed himself, by watching over Joanna, chasing her and finally getting her to accept him (redeeming him from his feeling of failure over losing his wife and daughter, and his inability to track them down) - and Joanna meets her guardian angel - a protective fatherly figure who accepts her for who she is.
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What a Brilliantly Surreal Film
nauselbaum3 February 2000
It's the films that get hardly no, or very little exposure in commercial advertising that usually strike you the most when you're sitting in a theatre of people, not knowing what to expect. This is much the case with this movie. It's a sort of David Cronenberg meets Roman Polanski type of film, mixed in with a bit of Stanley Kubrick. Needless to say, the movie is a surreal one, that incorporates a brilliant cast with an incredible script and wonderful artistic direction.

It's hard to say what the film is about, other than to suggest it's about obsession. That's the way I see it at least. The acting really brings out the reality of the film, and all I can say is Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd are just magical together in this film! K.D. Lang, well, I didn't really like her in the film at all; I felt her character didn't do much for the film.

If your kind of film is a dynamic, unpredictable, original and surrealistic film, then this one would be a good addition to your list of seen films. If not, and you prefer action-based films, then this movie could definitely hit it off. It has elements of almost all film genres, so everyone should go out and see it!
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Something different
Screamager457 September 2003
It seems that there are a lot of people slagging this film off. I can see why they are, but I disagree.

If you are looking for a big money, same as all the rest thriller then ignore this film.

If you want something a little different and interesting, give it a try. Good performances and an strangley intriguing plot keeps you watching.

Give it a try, at least it's not Titanic.
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Flawed But Visually-Audibly Entertaining
ccthemovieman-122 October 2005
Here's an extremely stylish, different film panned by almost all the professional critics which means here's another example of why they should be ignored. You are better off reading the reviews of people here,

Being one who appreciates stylish film-making, I thoroughly enjoyed the images and the sound on this movie. I found it absolutely fascinating. Being a male, it doesn't hurt that Ashley Judd stars in it, either.

To be fair, I can see where the story would turn off a number of people.The co- lead, Ewan McGregory's character, is odd and not very credible. k.d. lang's character is unlikable, there is some stupid numerology as part of the story and the ending is unsatisfying .

Yet, despite the above, the story is very involving and the visuals and sound (5.1 surround) are just so good that they outweigh the negatives. The movie flat-out entertains, which is the name of the game.
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McGregor great as always
hamsteroffury26 January 2003
Interesting to look back on. So was Eye Of The Beholder a let down? Well the answer has to be a no! I went to this movie having seen a single trailer that looked more intruiging that 'mindblowing' and I think that's the whole basis of the film. It's not an epic or a groundbreaking Matrix-esque special effects extravaganza...It doesn't pretend to be. It's straight up and honest. It's not glamorous and sometimes you wonder why the characters are doing what they're doing. The ghost of McGregor's daughter is an interesting addition that shows his lonliness and complusion to the job and at the same time his yearning and feeling of loss towards her. I came out of the film feeling like I had witnessed something that not many people would watch - and that they'd be missing out! So yeah, you might prefer to go and watch epics at the cinema but why not rent this out for a lazy saturday evening. It won't blow you away but at least it has thought behind it!
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an interesting failure
Dierdre9921 January 2003
Despite over 300 comments, some people are still posting saying that it was beyond them and what do the rest of us see in it. Those naysayers should actually read the posted comments.

I watched the film twice, read Marc Behm's book and then watched it again. I would like to see the original film version, 'Mortelle randonnée'(1983) (it has a really good soundtrack album by Carla Bley), but so far have not found a video-rental shop that has a copy. Like the director, Stephan Elliott's major film, 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert', 'Eye of the Beholder' is a road movie about eccentrics, one of whom is into wigs and changing her appearance. Like Marc Behm's script for 'Charade'(1963) it is about a spook who is looking after a young woman who doesn't really know what is going on. I can't think of any parallels with Marc Behm's Beatles film 'Help!'(1965). Actually Behm has 13 IMDB credits, and most of them are difficult to find. As are his other novels.

The major improvement over the book is the addition of the hi-tech snooping equipment. The book's Eye is an old-fashioned gumshoe who simply looks though bedroom windows and the like. Also the making the lost daughter's ghost more solid is an interesting effect. We don't have to know that the girl is dead to think of the image of her as a ghost. I didn't notice that she is played by two actors. The problem is that Ewan McGregor is too young for the role. At the end of the book he dies of old age. I think that the book captures his slipping into obsession better, and part of the picture is that Joanna Eris is about the age that his daughter would have been. A side-effect of his computer tools etc, is that it becomes more unlikely that he would not be able to find his ex-wife and daughter. But as the film makes him a Brit in the States, they would be back in Britain.

Obviously the script had to drop a lot of the incidents in the book. In the film it is extremely implausible that he is able to get a room next to Joanna in the New York hotel. In the book he tails her for several months through a few murders, which would give him a chance to take a sublet in the building.

The rich blind man is called 'Forbes' in the book. Given the real-life family of that name, it was probably best to change it.

In the book the scene where Joanne is identified in the restaurant where she is working, takes place in New Jersey. In the film it is said to be Alaska, although we know that it is somewhere in Quebec. Why didn't the film say that it was Quebec. Then the crew would not have to work so hard hiding all the French signs. I presume that in 'Mortelle randonnée' all the places were changed to places in France (where apparently Marc Behm lives).

An ironic detail. The book has several cross-dressing incidents: the Eye does nanny-drag to continue his surveillance; Joanna and a woman friend not in the book do male drag to rob banks and filling-stations, and the Jason Priestley character, Gary, is a cross-dressing fetishist. I suppose that the director of Priscilla feels that he has done the topic.

I would have liked the film to have kept the incidents where Joanna almost recognizes the Eye, including the time when she hires a detective to capture him.

The film has a lot more in it than most thrillers. It avoids the cliches, challenges the viewer, but doesn't really gel. There are too many nagging questions afterwards.
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It's really good, but not in an ordinary way.
uyvt8 April 2003
This movie is a "film noir". That makes it different from most popular films. Don't watch it if you want laughs, or tears, but only if you want to leave it rather haunted by it. It will make you think. It will make you feel. I really like that. And I really liked the acting, directing, and the look of the picture. But most of all I liked the way it made me think and feel. Try it when you can give it the attention it deserves.
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A real mess of an oddity.
MidniteRambler17 June 2004
Warning: Spoilers

This is a bizarre little film about a British spy based in the US who is dispatched by his embassy to watch an official's son. The son is murdered by a mysterious girlfriend, played by Ashley Judd, and our spy starts to tail Judd from afar, using all the paraphernalia of his trade. He becomes more and more obsessed and soon progresses from spy to stalker to guardian angel as she disposes of lover after lover during her dashes across the States, winding up in Alaska, at "the end of the world". Not until the last act do the stalker and the killer exchange any meaningful dialogue, and, on the trudge to the final act, we learn very little about the two characters and even less about their motivations.

Like many movies, this one draws extremes of praise and rancour. It is not an enjoyable film, but some elements compel us to watch it and to watch it again, and we are left wondering why this should be the case. From one angle, this is easy: the two stars are good at their job and both are highly watchable. But what holds our interest after the closing credits is more significant and that is that this film could have been so much better, that some poor decisions were taken at the writing stage and that with these two headliners, Eye of the Beholder could have been a memorable offering. MacGregor's stalker is fleshed out almost entirely by the irritating presence in his imagination of his daughter, whom he lost when his wife left some time ago, and his imaginary conversations with this child provide some vestiges of character and motivation; other than that, we are on our own. A couple of minutes at the beginning with the character interacting with a real girlfriend or on some sort of assignment might have had us rooting for him much, much more. As it is, he is hardly more than a cipher. Similarly, Judd's killer is even more of a mystery and we never really understand why she is so murderous. Again, a few minutes of exposition in the early stages could have heightened the viewer's interest in and empathy for her character: as she is presented to us, our only interest in her is that she's being played by Ashley Judd. Neither Judd nor MacGregor could have done anymore with the material given to them, short of returning the screenplay with a polite "no, thank you".

I could not recommend this movie, nor could I call it a bad movie. For me, Ashley Judd could never be boring, and there are bucketloads of moviegoers who would sit back happily while Ewan MacGregor painted a wall white and watched it dry. But, aside from curiosity about the two stars, unless you are interested in how and why projects with good potential fail to deliver the goods so spectacularly, this is probably one to avoid. Which is something of a shame.
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All travel, no story
Dodger-912 June 2000
It took six months for Eye of the Beholder to reach Britain and with next to no publicity, that meant it could either be an intriguing curio or a film so bad, no-one could bother endorsing it.

Alas, it falls into the latter camp and anyone paying to see this turkey will feel very short changed by the time the closing credits roll.

Australian writer/director Stephan Elliott made a big impact in the early Nineties with his smash hit Priscilla Queen of the Desert and the thought of him turning his hand from gay road movie to serial killer thriller was not an altogether horrific prospect.

The fact that it also starred Ewan McGregor and the far from hideous Ashley Judd was also a good sign.

However, Patrick Bergin hasn't made a decent film in years and his presence does set a few alarm bells ringing.

McGregor plays 'Eye', a British secret service agent who wears a knackered old anorak tied up with tape and grime.

While spying on the enigmatic Joanna (Judd), he is naturally shocked when she murders her lover and then takes off with him in hot pursuit.

Eye is a solitary figure haunted by the presence of his daughter who is off living with his estranged wife.

A nice idea which was also done in Edge of Darkness. But whereas that TV classic made the plot device work to its advantage, this merely acts as a sounding board for our slightly unhinged protagonist.

As soon as Eye starts chasing Joanna, the little girl vanishes. Is he cured? We don't really know. And it seems neither does the director.

With smatterings of Vertigo and Rear Window, this wannabe Hitchcock thriller features obvious references to those movies and for the first half hour, you forgive the homages.

However, it soon becomes apparent that there's no real story here. Just a series of varying US locations as Eye chases Judd from state to state, accruing a series of snow globes. A clever device for telling us where we are, just in case we don't recognise the New York skyline or the rollercoaster hills of San Francisco.

As with most Hollywood movies these days, the one commodity sorely lacking is suspense. The gadgets and cast may look good but without some form of gravity, the whole thing flies away like a kite in a strong breeze. Too much time is spent travelling from A to B without any real reason. There's not much point taking a journey if you're going nowhere, unless you like the scenery.

This is not a travelog. It's meant to be letting you in on precious bits of information as the mystery unfolds. What it does is merely irritate like a stone in your shoe as you walk down a good looking road.

The film also features one of the poorest endings of any movie in recent history.

I guarantee you will leave the cinema feeling disappointed as EOB doesn't so much reach a satisfying conclusion as reach no conclusion at all.
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jbrett10 June 2000
Worse than I even imagined, even after reading all the negative comments. I should have trusted the comments, but I didn't because everyone said that "Being John Malkovich" was good, and it was also terrible. So I went against the users comments thinking they were wrong again, but they were not. Duller than dull. Hollywood is losing it's ability to make good movies. My only question is: Why did Judd do this movie???
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Plotless, pointless, endless, senseless......This movie couldn't have been less.
filmdolly25 February 2000
The beginning was mesmerizing in a perverse sort of way. The cinematography did seem to grab you at first, but it isn't too long before you realize there is nothing else to this movie. Who were these people; what were they doing; and why were they doing it? I still don't have a clue. The only reason I didn't walk out was because I was with a friend and needed a ride home. The worst movie I have seen in a long time. I only wish I had read the comments on this site before I dropped my hard earned cash on this. Don't waste yours--not even in the video store.
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one of the dumbest movies of the year
hobaughd15 February 2000
The characters were not sympathetic, and their motivations were unclear and while the movie made a half-hearted attempt to explain the reasons for their actions it was not successful. I can only hope the ending does not imply a sequel.
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Decide For Yourself
bloodyhell7 November 2003
I know people have already explained things from every viewpoint, but I still want to give my own opinion (fancy that).

I loved this film.

Granted, I wouldn't want to watch it endlessly for weeks on end, but I thought it to be a very original work of entertainment (yes, I meant entertainment). I'm so damn bored of all these pointless, predictable movies that seem to be overflowing the film industry. There's no real...art to them. Eye of the Beholder, while tedious and slow-paced in parts, was not like that. Some of that was due to the acting.

I've been a fan of Ewan McGregor for awhile now. I'll admit he was the reason I rented this movie in the first place. But after I saw it, I appreciated the whole aspect of it- not just him. Hell, I even went and got a copy of the bloody book.

I'm not saying you must, should or will even enjoy the movie. (Though, looking at the majority of the lot, most didn't). What I AM saying is that you should at least watch the movie and decide for yourself.


(By the by- does anybody happen to know what sort of camera (model) the 'Eye' used? (The long silver one) I've been looking for one just like it...)
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Should come with a warning label
Spock-116 February 2000
Movies like this should come with a warning label: "Caution! Do not operate heavy machinery after watching"

Unfortunately, I violated one of my own rules of movie-going: never---I repeat, NEVER---go to a movie that the "critics are raving about." The only reason ANYBODY would "rave" about this movie is they couldn't figure it out, so they figure it MUST have some deeper meaning. Anybody that doesn't like it must be one of the shallow, non-creative types that only likes predictable movies. There's ALWAYS a deeper meaning.

Trust me. There's no deeper meaning. There's only two hours of non-stop rambling trash that you'll no-doubt find in the cut-out bin of your nearest video store in the next three months. No plot. No character development. Nada. Nil. Fin.

Anything the so-called "critics" love is bound to be a worthless piece of #@!$.
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Boring and hard to follow.
jcushin19 October 2000
Another rental that I feel I have wasted $4 on and about two hours of my life. The plot didn't make sense and was hard to follow. The pace was also painstakingly slow. This is a story that probably needs the format of a book to be able to understand. I didn't like the main character. He was a stalker and they made that out to be like it was okay. I would recommend a pass on this movie.
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lizabeth847 July 2000
I thought this movie was going to be interesting. Boy, could I have been ANY more wrong? Ashley Judd still gave a decent performance, even though the movie made absolutely no sense. All the characters seem to be wearing sort of old fashioned type clothes, yet the technology incorporated into the film is far too advanced for that. Also, if he is a British spy type guy, why is he following her all over the United States? The story line was horrible...all that happened was a few guys were murdered, Ewan MacGregor became obsessed with Ashley Judd, and he keeps seeing visions of his daughter who you assume was taken from him by his former wife, but she seems to appear as a ghost. (Who you even see blurs of in developed pictures...again, something that has nothing to do with what SHOULD be the initial plot.) The only effect this movie had on me was after it ended, I shrugged my shoulders and said "HUH?!" Don't waste your time on this one.
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I want the two hours they stole from me...
jnunn-222 June 2000
This was one of the worst feature films I have ever seen. I'm a big fan of McGregor and Ashley Judd is usually always great--but this movie was the biggest waste of time since Bob Dole ran for office. There are confusing elements introduced early that are never fully explained--and there seems to be an element of the story line that was left on the cutting-room floor, because there are exchanges between the two principals that are so ambiguous you feel like you've missed half of the movie.
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magnum23219 June 2000
This has got to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I honestly can't complain about the acting because, simply, the script didn't call for any. The plot was unbelievably, unthinkably thin, it makes...well, let me put it this way: Think of the movie with the thinest possible plot ever. Got it? Now make it 10 times thinner, and you have an idea of this film. And what happened to the dialogue? Did anyone else notice this? I swear, there's maybe about 10 lines in the whole film. Well, I guess that's good, because it is deaf-friendly. Not that ANYONE would ever want to see this. It might be worth it to see Ashly Judd naked, but if you want that, you can see "Double Jeopardy," "Norma, Jean and Marilyn," or...hell, any movie with her! Just make sure that if you do rent it, skip right to the end of the second scene, and then the bathtub scene. Then stop watching.
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Never Seen Worse
ulis29 January 2000
Many times I go to movies with a clean slate: not expecting the movie to be good, nor to be bad, as was the case with "Eye of the Beholder." The first 5 minutes of the movie seemed "intriguing", and that was IT. I consider myself fairly adept at deciding which movies are "good" and which should be deemed "bad". I have never left a movie in the middle, and this was the closest that I have ever come. The 2 reasons I didn't leave the theatre was: 1. I paid $7 and I hate to waste money. and 2. The movie was so boring it literally made me so apathetic in my seat that I COULDN'T summon enough strength to get out of the seat and leave. Despite paying $7, I honestly wish I would have left the theatre as soon as possible. The movie was EXTREMELY SSSSLLLLOOOOOWWWW. Personally, I found it VERY hard to stay awake(I did actually find myself dosing off a few times). Even my ultimate-movie-critic friend, nodded off a few times. Towards the end of the movie, I just wanted to say something funny. I PRAYED that there was a scene that either Ewan McGregors' or Ashley Judds' character was looking for something so I could yell "They must be looking for the plot too!!!" At the end of the movie, you could tell everyone in the theatre was just as disappointed as I was. To sum it up: No Plot, and a Pace as slow as my great-grandma walking the 21k marathon.
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My God, this was bad
Brain of J8 March 2000
I've liked Ewan McGregor since Trainspotting, and although I was disappointed with his performance in the Phantom Menace (I think was due to the poor script, though), this must be the low point of his career. Even the presence of Ashley Judd could not save this from being a ridiculously bad film.

Rating: 0/10
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merrywood31 January 2000
Essentially, this is a giant mound of malodorous garbage of a film made, apparently, before Ashley Judd's successful appearance in DOUBLE JEAPORDY, having languished in a film can for some years and finally sold to its distributor for a meager $4 million to take advantage of Judd's newly found fame.

This film was either made by someone whose bread is not quite fully baked or somehow terribly mangled in the post production and editing process to the point where nothing makes any sense. Dialog is often pointless and meaningless, action is not only unbelievable but often stupid. The film has no substantial story or structure. Its worse sin, it bores.

The film, as it was presented in national release, depicts senseless murder and in a fashion that attempts to trivialize murder. The murders themselves are done by characters with no understood or delineated provocation nor are the murderer's characters developed to the point where it is possible to understand this extremely negative and destructive human behavior.

This is not movie entertainment. It is incoherent, amateur waste of capital and will squander your time as well in the watching. We are not surprised by the release of the film since the bottom line of Hollywood, all too often, is greed. Each time an outrageous piece of dung like this is released it gives the industry and America a black eye. Spare yourself and stay away from this pile of rubbish.
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Do not see this movie!
jrobinson036 February 2000
I kept waiting and waiting for some clue as to what in the world was going on, who was related to whom, and what was this all about? And I'm usually a very perceptive movie-goer. A very unsatisfying waste of two hours. Really felt violated by the film-makers after this one.
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Worst Movie I have ever seen
Talon1121 November 2001
I feel sorry for anyone renting this movie and was deceived by the interesting writing about it on the back of the movie. Psychologically, this movie made no sense, even though the characters were both insane they were completely boring. I cringed throughout the entire move and highly suggest that no one should ever rent this movie.....EVER.
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so disappointing...
melodieasimond13 June 2001
i like to give every movie a chance, thus i watch the whole thing no matter how awful it is in the beginning and middle. i always hope for a redeeming end. i tend to get some type of satisfaction, but this movie just made everything ten times worse. the ending made absolutely no sense at all. in the beginning you are led to think that the story is actually going somewhere, but then it goes in a totally different direction. his obssession is never clear, never makes sense. his reappearing (ghost) daughter is totally stupid and never really explained thoroughly enough. it's really sad that two very good actors were cast in this. it seems like they truly are trying to do their best but are just as confused as the viewers. i found this movie to be a complete waste of time and money. very sad indeed.
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