All I See is You is the kind of film that requires a certain amount of patience to appreciate, because it starts out seeming to be one thing (that I and apparently a lot of other people did not find particularly interesting) and turns out to be quite another (which I quite enjoyed, although my sentiments are far from universally shared). It’s also a film that is difficult to review because most of the good stuff can’t be discussed without spoilers. I’m going to adhere to the unwritten film critic code and avoid giving major plot points away, but I will also say this much up front—if you are the kind of person whose enjoyment of a film comes primarily from the plot (rather than, say, the relationships among the characters, the cinematography, or any of the other many things that make up a movie), than this is probably not a film you will like.
I wasn’t sure about All I See is You at first. It opens like a cross between an ad for upscale lifestyle products and a soft-porn film, with a lot of arty, self-conscious cinematography thrown in. When we first meet James (Jason Clarke) and Gina (Blake Lively), they’re living in a shiny high rise in Bangkok, where he works at some unspecified and apparently well-paid occupation while she teaches guitar. Gina is blind due to a car accident, but she carries no visible signs other than one tiny, very artful scar on the bridge of her nose (revealed in one of the film’s many extreme close-ups). In fact, both she and James could be in the dictionary under “pretty people in pretty places,” and James seems entirely devoted to her. We see a lot of idealized sex scenes as well as lots of odd framings and abstract, out-of-focus shots, which I take to be the director’s attempt to show how Gina perceives the world (she is not completely blind, but her remaining sight is quite minimal). So, in the early going I was afraid I would be trapped in 110 minutes of art-house hell, watching a movie about a beautiful blind woman and her devoted spouse, tricked out with every cliché in the directorial playbook.
Fortunately, things get a lot more interesting after Gina has an operation that restores her sight. Here is where the film’s thriller aspect kicks in, as the audience (and eventually Gina as well) come to realize that perhaps James is not quite the ideally supportive spouse that he seems to be. All I See is You does not devolve into a Gaslight-style thriller, however, but becomes a portrait of a marriage and how the two parties involved react to a change in the power dynamic within their relationship. If you come to this film expecting a conventional thriller, you’ll be disappointed, while if you are up for a character study with some really fine acting from Blake Lively, you’ll find much to appreciate here.
Directed by Marc Foster from a script by Foster and Sean Conway, All I See is You was largely filmed in Bangkok, and it shows off that city splendidly. Matthias Koenigswieser’s cinematography can be enjoyed for its sheer exuberance, but it also carries meaning in terms of the plot—as Gina gradually regains her sight, she sees everything as if for the first time, and it’s all fresh and beautiful and amazing. All I See is You also features some excellent acting in secondary roles, including Danny Huston as Gina’s physician, Ahna O’Reilly as her sister, and Miquel Fernandez as her brother-in-law. | Sarah Boslaugh