Eyes Without A Face (1960)
Director: Georges Franju
Writer: Pierre Boileau
Actors: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel
I think that every classic review I have done, I have always mentioned my one criteria for rating them. I always have this in the back of my mind whenever I watch an old film. “does it still live up?”, “is it still entertaining to watch?”. Because I think these are very important questions to ask. I understand certain films are revered because of their influence on future films and the world of film making in general. A great example is Citizen Kane. It is on the top of nearly every list of greatest films ever made. I don’t doubt that it is a very important film, and it has shaped the way the film industry worked from then on. But does it still live up? That is what I always want to know with my reviews. I want to watch a film that I can enjoy in 2018, or maybe even 2050 and still be entertained. Films like Modern Times, Persona, 2001 A Space Odyssey, or anything by Billy Wilder are just a few. Those films are not only classics in the sense of their influence but also in their timelessness. Eyes Without A Face unfortunately, doesn’t have that timeless quality, but it is an important film.
I can tell how influential this film is just by one viewing. I haven’t read on the history and the influences it caused. But I am sure it inspired many similar films such as the Mexican horror The Skin I Live In. However, the film did not offer me anything that I can’t see elsewhere. I think my main issue with the film is the way they treat suspense. Within 15 minutes of the film the audience is filled with questions. Who is this mysterious woman dumping bodies in the river? Why is this woman hiding her face? What is the doctor trying to do to help her? All of these questions are fine, and they are necessary to keep the suspense alive. The issue is that less than halfway through the film all of these questions get answered. They get answered in a very drab way. It’s like, I now knew what was happening and then that was it. The film went on for another 40 minutes and it was over. The structure of the film was off, and sometimes filmmakers need to know its sometimes better to not reveal things for the sake of the story. After I realized what was happening with the story and the characters, I just sat through the rest of the film unimpressed. I enjoyed the prosthetics, even though they were little throughout. I also liked the way the film ended. But still, it all felt like it was leading towards something, and it didn’t. It just went out the same way the whole film felt for me. Just fine. That is unfortunately not what I want from a classic.