Director: Sophia Parisotto
Writer: Bryce Yates
Cast: Christopher Romero Sosa & Molly Corkins
Running time: 5mins
One of the most perplexing things about Eye Love You is that it costs a princely sum of $50. Looking at just how minimalistic this project is, it’s hard to figure out how it even cost that. Shoestring budgets are nothing to be ashamed of, of course, but such an oddly specific budget could only have gone on a few things.
The buying or hiring a camera; the editing and animation services of Victoria Glass; and the time of actors Christopher Romero Sosa and Molly Corkins would presumably be worth more than $50 individually, let alone combined (though the same is probably not true of Bryce Yates’ script). Did Sophia Parisotto decide to buy everyone a celebratory pint upon wrapping, or were main character Frederick’s statement ties just really expensive? It will probably always be a mystery.
Much less mysteriously, as you can probably guess from the fact I am writing about statement ties and $50 budgets, there is not much meat to be found on the bones of this film. Clocking in at just under five minutes, this romantic comedy is underwhelming on both fronts: unoriginal in its portrayal of a budding relationship; non-committal and uninspired in the delivery of its humour.
It’s safe to say EYE didn’t exactly love it.
That pun serves as approximately half the film’s dialogue, by the way. As eccentric optometrist Frederick struggles to strike up a connection on a series of exasperating blind dates, he falls back on an increasingly grating stockpile of ocular ‘Dad-jokes’. Several of them are just him substituting ‘I’ for ‘EYE’. Over the course of the dates, the faceless women opposite him tire with the schtick to the extent one throws a glass of water in his face, and he dejectedly stumbles away into a neighbouring park.
Admittedly, there is something I find endearing about Frederick, or at least, Christopher Romero Sosa – whose wide-eyed performance, unwaveringly enthusiastic delivery of puns, and unusual wardrobe (a bowtie festooned with cartoon eyes) would lend themselves well to a classic Batman villain. Unfortunately, Yates’ script is pointedly uninterested in examining anything even approaching darkness, so whatever potential this performance had goes unexplored.
Instead, we get one of those eternally boring men who frequent the First Dates restaurant, relentlessly insisting that a niche career is a viable substitute for a personality. Look, I have literally nothing to say about life outside of my life as a cheese-taster, but in time you will grow to love my cheesy jokes. And if you want more of that kind of infuriating banality, you can already find it in abundance on Channel 4; so, there’s not much unique about Frederick which might actually convince us to root for him.
Eventually, as he wanders through the park, the lovelorn Frederick stumbles on what seems to be his opportunity for true love. Someone has dropped their glass eye on the floor – and that someone just so happens to be a socially awkward weirdo who is also partial to a joke about corneas. Like our lead, Iris (Molly Corkins) also seems like a character with more potential than the writers seem to have believed – thanks in part again to the performance of the actor portraying her. Corkins has a kind of edge that suggests while she can be laughing and making light of losing her eye in an accident one moment, she is only ever one misjudged pun away from bursting into tears or breaking into violence. She brings a kind of robotic, jerking body-language that speaks of someone performatively just holding things together, and again, that could have been explored to give us something more interesting than the interaction we get.
At one moment, it seems like Eye Love You might be about to subvert our expectations; to prime us to expect one thing, only to send us down a different path – the substance an actual joke is usually made of. While Iris is conspicuously ‘perfect’ for Frederick – the inescapable “someone” from his “someone out there for everyone” – it feels like he is about to find a way to somehow miss even this gilt-edged opportunity, when he laughs maniacally at her admission that she has an empty socket underneath her eyepatch. But she just gets over it, and allows him to place the glass eye – which has been on the ground, in the park, directly into her head.
Even in that moment, there was room for something else, apart from the saccharine fare we have so far been inflicted with. A brief second where real-world sensibilities might have leaked into this dream world – where we might have at least had a childish laugh at how disgusting that uncleaned eye, rolling around in the filth of the park, probably was. But that moment is missed, and we are left with a distasteful mouthful of sweet, on sweet, on sweet, instead.
The lead performances of this film show real potential. The cinematography and editing are capable, if uninspiring. But what lets Eye Love You down is a catastrophic lack of ambition in its storytelling. There are opportunities to inject just a little edge or darkness into this offputtingly happy vision, which could have made it a lot easier on the eyes, but neither the writer nor the director seems to have been interested in doing so.