Look Away Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by Vertical Entertainment
Written and directed by Assaf Bernstein
2018, 103 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 12th, 2018
Starring:India Eisley as Maria / Airam
Jason Isaacs as Dan (Dad)
Mira Sorvino as Amy (Mom)
Penelope Mitchell as Lily
Harrison Gilbertson as Sean
John C. McDonald as Mark
Parents can be hideous. Being a teenager is a patently awful time in anyone’s life, especially when your father is a sleazy plastic surgeon, your Mom is constantly out of it. You live a privileged life in a high-end private school and live in the lap of luxury. It’s not my background, but I can see where it’s a less than ideal existence. I grew up poor, but being on the outside is the same no matter what your purchase power is. It’s a naturally horrific experience and Look Away capitalizes on that universal truth with scalpel sharpness, razor precision, and testicular fortitude.
Maria Brennan (India Eisley; ABC family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager) is the proverbial high-school outsider. She only has one (questionable) friend in Lily (Penelope Mitchell; CW series The Vampire Diaries). Her father (Jason Isaacs; Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter series) is a self-absorbed plastic surgeon, and her mother (Mira Sorvino; Mimic) is the queen of self-medication and suppression of the ugly truth. She’s bullied by Mark (John C. McDonald; A Dog’s Purpose). Lily’s boyfriend, Sean (Harrison Gilbertson, Upgrade), is kind to her but beholden to his two-faced girlfriend. In short, her life sucks. Just when it seems there’s no escape, her literal mirror image begins to talk to her. Before she knows it, her evil twin (both literally and figuratively) has taken her place and sets to righting the wrongs in her life.
You need to know right off the bat that India Eisley is a star in the making. Her dual performance is equal parts nuanced, over the top, sexy, tragic, and ballsy. She’s stunning…and that is about the only part of this movie that doesn’t sit right. Have you ever seen the spoof classic Not Another Teen Movie? If you have, then you know that all they had to do to make the Janie character hot was take off her glasses and undo the ponytail. Maria / Airam is kind of like that; she’s a little too beautiful to be believed as an outsider with social issues. It’s a minor bitch, I know. I just wanted to point it out as you will undoubtedly feel the same.
With that being said, Look Away goes into some uncomfortable and dark territory. The sleaze factor (both psychologically and physically) of Jason Isaacs is off the charts. It’s not just him, either (although seeing Lucius Malfoy as a shallow plastic surgeon hits all the right notes). The psychology on display throughout the duration is brutally real and will make you want to cry for Maria. When done correctly, thriller/horror/drama can meet in one beautifully nasty stomping ground. Mission accomplished in that regard.
You’ll appreciate the ambiguity of the whole affair. It may be the crowning achievement of Look Away. In the tradition of great films like Man Bites Dog, you’re left to decide not only how to feel about what you’ve just seen but also to decide whether Airam is a demon, evil twin, or simply a repressed part of Maria’s personality. It’s open to interpretation. That is not an easy line to walk, but Assaf Bernstein (Netflix series Fauda) does it with some real gumption. I am genuinely impressed.
The production value is high, slick and polished. While that doesn’t always play well, in this case it is pitch-perfect. I hope that a good number of people get to see Look Away. It’s a strange mix of R-rated (Eisley shows a fair amount of skin and sensuality) with the PG-rated (generally bloodless kills). The mix shouldn’t work, yet it does work…and with a fair degree of panache.
My overall impression is that Carrie and The Dark Half got together in a night of uncontrolled lust and emotion and produced Look Away. It’s definitely one of the more impressive efforts of 2018. Watch it with your kids for a lesson in abnormal psychology.
Just kidding. Don’t do that. Bad idea. It’s that effective.
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