Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

“What I’m trying to do is give an account of the times in which I’m living. And I’ve seen all kinds of murder — physical, yes, but moral, spiritual, emotional murder!”

Synopsis:
A controversial fashion photographer (Faye Dunaway) known for her graphically violent and sexualized imagery begins seeing murders of her colleagues and friends take place through her mind’s eye — though no one believes her. Can a police chief (Tommy Lee Jones) help Dunaway determine the identity of the killer — who may be her jealous ex-husband (Raul Julia), her ex-con driver (Brad Dourif), or someone else entirely?

Genres:

Review:
Based on a source story and original screenplay by John Carpenter, this American giallo film is high on atmosphere but low on credibility and genuine tension. The potentially intriguing psychic angle — Dunaway sees murders in her head from the unseen killer’s point of view — is used simply to show she might be going off the deep end, and the potential suspects are too broadly drawn to be realistic contenders. Meanwhile, we’re meant to engage with a broader exploration of whether violent, sexually exploitative imagery somehow has an impact on society or vice versa — and/or might be fueling the killer’s moralistic rage — but it all comes across as simply an excuse to show off models in various states of undress, as Dunaway and her assistant (Rene Auberjonois) offer prissily precise feedback on stylized details. The ending comes out of nowhere, leaving viewers not only full of empty imagery but lack of any narrative satisfaction. And the romance between Dunaway and Jones? Well, let’s just call it contrived.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine cinematography and on-location shooting in New York

Must See?
Nope. You can skip this one.

Links:

4 Responses to “Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)”

  1. An overall decent thriller that owes more than a bit to Italian giallos, but I do agree the ending makes little sense. I seem to remember John Carpenter’s original script ended quite differently but was changed by director Kirshner.

  2. Largely for camp enthusiasts only. As per my post in ‘Revival House of Camp and Cult’ (fb):

    “Well, I just wanna ask if she knows how really offensive her work is to women.”

    ‘Eyes of Laura Mars’: I don’t usually – eventually – start giggling uncontrollably during a flick about serial killings. But there’s always an exception. Like this one. Even though he didn’t have much of a film career, director Irvin Kershner was not without talent. He was hired for this (presumably) because a guy with talent was needed to disguise (as much as possible) just how preposterous the script was. The result is kind of fascinating cause you can see just how hard Kershner is working to bring some real ‘magic’ to this piece of crap. ~and he almost pulls it off. But, of course, he also has Faye Dunaway to deal with as Laura Mars. Faye had just come into her own as a very bankable star. A few years after making this film, she made ‘Mommie Dearest’ and her career took a slow dive to oblivion. (She’s still making movies but can you name a single one that she’s made in the last 20+ years? …I didn’t think so.) Here, it seems Kershner did his best to convince Faye that she was making a thriller of quality. To help with that, he managed to surround her with quality actors. Faye does a lot of ‘high quality’ emoting. It all makes for some very quality giggling.

  3. There is an evocative poster for this movie that all at once overpromised and underdelivered. Decadent late-‘70s hamfisted ‘psycho-killer haunting NYC fashion models’ mess that can’t even effectively utilize its own excesses in a way that’s satirical, or entertaining, or even just a little bit memorable. The ending literally makes you feel like you’ve been robbed of 2 hours. It’s also very dated, which doesn’t help. Total trash.

  4. Solid, entertaining, but definitely not must see.

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