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Eyes of Laura Mars

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 10/30/02 17:38:17

"A young Tommy Lee Jones shows how tired the mature Tommy Lee Jones is."
3 stars (Average)

Considered by many to be a classic, Eyes of Laura Mars is one of those late 70’s disco era thrillers that takes some time to warm up, simmers to a boil and then finishes things too quickly and easily to really give credit to. Faye Dunaway is a commercial photographer that uses horrific images to grab the attention of the public, and while she fights off allegations that her work glorifies violence and death, someone begins using her work to orchestrate murders. Adding to the weirdness is the fact that Laura can somehow see the murders from the murderer’s point of view, as they’re about to happen.

Enter the law – a very young Tommy Lee Jones as a detective who takes some convincing that Laura isn’t the killer or at least connected to the killer in some way. As the two of them try to figure things through, they naturally begin sleeping together and the lines between work and play start to become confused. I’ve always been lukewarm to Tommy Lee Jones, believing that he’s gone far on essentially one schtick, but his performance here gives me pause for thought. Eyes of Laura Mars was the film that catapulted him into the spotlight and it’s not hard to see why – he chews scenery in this flick like few before him. You’d expect that playing opposite Faye Dunaway, Rene Auberjonois and Brad Dourif perhaps Tommy Lee would get blown out of the water, but on the contrary, Jones not only gives a five star performance but he also wrote most of his own (very convincing) dialogue.

This film introduced a number of new faces to the world, among them writer John Carpenter (who went on to be a horror movie icon) and Raul Julia (who appears credited only as ‘RJ’), but the best reason to watch it would be to see Tommy Lee Jones on fire. These days the Jones boy seems to coast through many of his films, but here he was a young dude with a full head of hair and a distinctly serious attitude.

In true murder mystery fashion, every character is a suspect, though director Irvin Kershner (king of the sequel – he directed Empire Strikes Back, Robocop 2, Never Say Never Again and The Return of a Man Called Horse) never focuses attention too strongly on any of them except for Brad Dourif. The best way to tackle this film is to give it a while before making a judgment call.

The violence is particularly gruesome (the victims are stabbed in the eyes), the story does get better as it goes, and as it features a bevy of models in various states of undress, if the mystery isn’t enough to keep your attention, the nudity may well do the trick. Worth your time.

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