Let’s not have any fun.
Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is another movie that thinks an 70s/80s aesthetic and dim lighting makes for a good movie. We follow a couple Eva and her jerk husband Dieter as they move into a castle she has inherited. Once inside, things get weird as reality seems to be shifting around them.
The plot takes a backseat to surreal imagery and dreamy moments that may have been interesting if the lighting in many of the shots wasn’t atrocious. I’m not sure if this film is actually doing things worse or if my patience for style over substance has finally completely collapsed into a bitter black hole that would prefer a movie that asks me to think rather than dipping into a specific wavelength.
The scenes of the film during the day are shot well and there is some real art on display here. We end up with a mixed bag of nice shots, decent acting, and an unclear script. I think that the film does a good job exploring the breakdown of a relationship and the dreamy nature does sometimes feed into this. However, we have such distant and unlikeable characters that it is hard to connect with them. I simply didn’t get Dieter. He’s an ass, he is meant to be an ass, but he seems so bitter and detached that his presence doesn’t make any sense. There is no denying people like him exist, but he is presented so bluntly that it is hard to take.
We don’t often see a lot of capital G Gothic films this committed to the form. Time itself seems as unreliable a narrator as our characters are. When the film creates the feeling of insecurity it does so quite well. However, there is a murkiness in the medium of film when trying to do this that does not always work. I think this story may have worked wonderfully as a novel.
There is a stark shift in the film around the halfway point where everything changes quite abruptly. I didn’t like this shift and we move away from traditional Gothic to… something else wanting to be more hallucinogenic in feeling. For me, we have two mismatched stories that don’t work in concert with each other. Either one may have made for an interesting piece alone, but smashed together it just seems weird to me.
Despite a decent look in some scenes, this one just didn’t work for me. It crams too much into the story to really connect in any meaningful way.