There are far too many times during Look Away when I found myself asking one simple question, why? Why am I watching this? Why was it ever made? Why would anyone sign up to star in this? These questions plagued me during the films dire 103-minute duration, so much so that I actually began to feel angry while watching it.
After the recent success of Us, it is no surprise to see a direct to video film trying to capitalise on that films success and use its portrayal of doppelgangers as a means to promote their film. Here, Maria is a social outcast, bullied by those around her and manipulated by her best friend and parents. Finding herself at her lowest ebb, Maria confronts her subconscious and frees her alter-ego in an effort to take control of her life.
Considering most films now hit the two-hour mark, it was refreshing to go into a film knowing it would last only marginally longer than a game of football. Being so utterly dull however made Look Away feel like a film that was double its length. Being the slog that it is, I felt like I should have some sort of award sent through the post for services to my nation – maybe the Queen would invite me round for afternoon tea and I could walk the Corgis on the afternoon?
I digress. Directed by Assaf Bernstein in his second directorial outing and starring Jason Isaacs & Mira Sorvino there was hope beforehand that Look Away would be an accomplished psychological thriller that would escape the tropes that all too often hinder the video-on-demand sub group of films. Sadly, this is not the case. Look Away is entirely limited by a poor script, wooden acting, paper-thin plotting and a director whose lingering shots on a young India Eisley beg some decidedly uncomfortable questions.
Eisley’s Maria struggles through high-school and encounters further troubles at home through her depressed mother (Sorvino) and egotistical father (Isaacs). Neither parent really understands their daughter and admit openly to her awkwardness and inability to be “normal.” Sorvino’s mother meanders though her depression, all the while ignoring her husbands’ affairs at work and the emotional bullying he puts his daughter through. Isaacs meanwhile creeps along in the rich white man role who candidly looks for imperfections in his wife and daughter and has little regard for their emotional well-being – the fact that he is a plastic surgeon merely emphasises his misogyny and seems to give him an excuse to have affairs nonchalantly.
Maria is bullied at school and is seen as a social outcast, but the film does little to give any reason or rhyme for why this is. In a school full of rich white people, the distinction between any of them is unclear and nothing is done to propel anyone’s story further. Finding sympathy with Maria is difficult and when her mirror image seizes control of her life this becomes even harder.
There are many uncomfortable scenes littered through Look Away, and sadly none of them are for the right reasons. Quite why the director felt the need to film India Eisley masturbating herself in a steam-filled shower room, and then later strip naked for her father are beyond me. Both scenes serve no purpose and could have been handled in a much more tasteful manner. Two more scenes include Eisley grabbing guys crotches, while another finds her in the shower room again but this time having to kiss her reflection in order to for her mirror image to take over. All are pointless, distasteful and reek of objectification.
It saddens me to write a review like this, but there is no joy whatsoever to be taken from Look Away. It can be argued that even a one-star film can be enjoyable, see anything starring Dwayne Johnson for evidence of this. But, Look Away has no redeeming qualities and is a film best avoided at any cost.
Look Away is available through VOD from 15 April