Sunday, 21 July 2019

Netflix And Chill: Look Away (2018)

India Eisley plays Maria, a quiet girl who isn't having a very good time of things at her school, mainly because of her being a bit quiet (I guess). While unhappy at school, she is equally unhappy at home, observing her unappreciated mother (Mira Sorvino) or being harshly criticised by her cold father (Jason Isaacs). Things start to change for Maria when she finds out that her reflection isn't JUST her reflection. It's a presence that has been with her throughout most of her life, calls herself Airam (of course), and is willing to switch places with Maria to put things right. So the two switch, which allows Airam to start punishing those who have spent too much time wronging Maria.

As slick and teen-centric as it is, and it really is, Look Away also has some surprising depth to it. Written and directed by Assaf Bernstein (an unexpected choice for him, considering most of his previous work), what could have easily been a supernatural revenge tale focusing on a bodycount and bloodshed instead plays out as a character study of a young woman willing to go to extreme lengths to find acceptance and love. Multi-layered scenes none too subtly reinforce the point that how others view you is a lot less important than how you view yourself.

A quote from Hollow Man comes to mind: "It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have to look at yourself in the mirror anymore." Although that doesn't look to be the literal case here, it's essentially the same thing. Maria sees herself whenever she looks in the mirror. Until she sees Airam, who is the tougher version of herself. Airam, on the other hand, sees Maria for a while, but does her best to avoid her when she starts heading down a very different path.

Eisley does well in the lead roles, doing her best to convince as both the worn-down teen and the badass out for revenge. Isaacs and Sorvino are both superb, portraying parents who are letting their daughter down in different, but equally damaging, ways. Penelope Mitchell is a friend to Maria who may not have always been as supportive as she could have been, John C. MacDonald is a bully motivated by an underlying attraction to Maria, and Harrison Gilbertson is the nice guy caught up in between people who are hiding their agendas from him.

Solid from start to finish, and genuinely interesting and thought-provoking by the time the end credits roll around, it's just a shame that the script doesn't fully convince in the opening act. Maria doesn't seem to have it as badly as some other movie characters we've seen endure tortuous school years of bullying. That's not to say that a character can only feel miserable and bullied if x events occur but it just feels a bit light compared to how the rest of the plot unfolds.

The title may be Look Away, but this rewards viewers who look a little deeper.


You can order a R1 disc here.
Americans can order it here.

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