Experiencing writer-director Tommaso Acquarone’s My Eyes (I Miei Occhi) feels like a metaphor to the title, as it quite efficaciously toys and dazzles the viewers’ viewpoints and perspectives. The twenty-minute short is shot through cameras kept at appealing angles as it tells the mysterious story of two familiar faces riding through the town. Without revealing much through obvious conversations, the filmmaker makes the most out of well-captured facial expressions, physical movements, and the intense atmosphere of a confined setting to keep his viewer’s eyes on-screen.
A lady (Kseniya Rappoport) sitting inside her car sees a juggler (João Farina) on the street performing his act. In talking on the phone, she suggests she possibly knows him from somewhere. “They are my eyes,” she conveys to the person on the other end of the call while looking at the juggler. These words are the only reference to the connection that only she’s aware of. After being unable to tip the performer, the lady circles around to find the juggler again and offers a ride back home. In this emotional and literal journey Acquarone takes us on, we see the two protagonists gradually opening up. As viewers share an interactive space with them, a vague understanding of their relationship comes forth.
From the beginning, Rappoport’s expressions clue us into our female protagonist’s curious and somewhat frightened character. Her shivering hands on the steering wheel and her constant urge to hastily smoke are some traits that imply her nervousness in this situation. Furthermore, her facial attributes strongly express that she cried earlier, thus intensifying her emotional vulnerability. The actor’s performance captures her character well, intriguing audiences to try and understand her.
“…the lady circles around to find the juggler again and offers a ride…”
Andrea Benjamin Manenti’s cinematography helps build interest. The film is shot from within the car’s backseat, raising My Eyes in two ways. First, the confined space gives the characters an intimate space which Tommaso Acquarone uses to establish the connection between the two. It seems as if the audience is a part of their conversation throughout. It also makes way for well-choreographed close-ups, which add greater detail to the characters’ expressions, which, in turn, significantly influence the story.
Farina leaves a subtle but lasting impression. There is simplicity in his performance which suits the character well. Throughout the narrative, there are references to the juggler’s lifestyle, which have hidden details for audiences to establish his place in the lady’s life. But the ambiguity and mystery make this short worth watching.
My Eyes has several hints of themes of abandonment, strained relationships, guilt, longing, desire, and penance. However, swaying away from the easily comprehensible narrative, Acquarone drives the audience into an utterly surprising climax, leaving those watching in disbelief with a profoundly ambiguous and unsuspecting end.
My Eyes is a wonderfully crafted short that sends important messages in its twenty-minute run. The greyness and close-up cinematography serve the filmmaker’s plans to create an anonymous relationship between his two protagonists well. However, whether the plot reveals or acknowledges the secret it toils the audience is insignificant. Instead, the imbalance of emotions displayed on-screen is what genuinely makes up for the rationale of this film. This is a worthy contender for much praise and applause.
"…a wonderfully crafted short..."