Right Under My Eyes

Scripter-helmer Virginie Wagon follows her much remarked upon "The Secret" (2000) -- about an intense extra-marital affair between a French woman and an older American man -- with the lighter "Right Under My Eyes," about the borders of intimacy and privacy as filtered through Web-based exhibitionism.

With:
With: Valerie Donzelli, Jean-Baptiste Montagut, Hugh Bonneville, Damien Ricourt, Mark Downey. (French & English dialogue.)

Scripter-helmer Virginie Wagon follows her much remarked upon “The Secret” (2000) — about an intense extra-marital affair between a French woman and an older American man — with the lighter “Right Under My Eyes,” about the borders of intimacy and privacy as filtered through Web-based exhibitionism. However, the venture, in which central trio talks about sex and/or gets naked and has sex in various permutations, maintains a level intellectual pulse despite its potentially juicy set-up, and is best suited for the small screen and fest slots.

Aged 20, Liam (Jean-Baptiste Montagut) is a reclusive tech weenie with no apparent interests besides taping, with a state-of-the-art webcam, his own every move — from eating breakfast to more intimate pursuits — for the 24-hour site liam.com. Liam’s hermetic world is thrown into upheaval when a boisterous Franco-British couple arrive for six weeks to share the Paris apartment he’s house-sitting for a relative.

Alison (Valerie Donzelli) is a waitress who works the night shift and James (Hugh Bonneville) is an affably beefy and extroverted Englishman with a go-getter personality. Incursion of camera has a subtle effect on all concerned as Liam has frank conversations with Alison which James ends up watching on his office computer during working hours.

The geometry of saying and doing whatever crosses one’s mind for the delectation of whoever happens to be logged on frees up a fair amount of thoughts and actions. Under the virginal Liam’s unflinching electronic gaze, the dynamics of Alison and James’ randy relationship is gradually altered.

Film was commissioned for Franco-German cultural Web Arte’s 10-part weekly series “Masculin/Feminin,” to start airing in September. And not unlike many a Web venture that’s more interesting in concept than execution, pic goes all the way on an intellectual plane while failing to go far enough as filmed entertainment. For the record, Bonneville learned his extensive French dialogue phonetically.

Right Under My Eyes

France

Production: An Arte France production. Produced by Christophe Valette. Directed, written by Virginie Wagon.

Crew: Camera (color, Beta SP), Pierre Milon; editors, Monique Dartonne, Celia Lafitte du Pont; music, Laurent Choukroun. Reviewed at Avignon Film Festival (competing), France, June 23, 2002. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Valerie Donzelli, Jean-Baptiste Montagut, Hugh Bonneville, Damien Ricourt, Mark Downey. (French & English dialogue.)

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