Written and directed by Javier Del Cid, co-written by Manuel Amaya, Gabhán City has fallen to an oppressive and totalitarian Regime, its inhabitants live in destitution and the city is confined by a tall imposing all surrounding wall. Starring: Cecilia Porras, Alexander Alzate, Yolanda Coronado, Juan Pablo Olyslager, Roberto Díaz Gomar, Álvaro Sagone, Hans Calderon, Juan Diego Rodriguez, Mercedes Arrivillaga and Valerie Andrews.
Dystopian futures are a staple of sci-fi cinema, citizens separated by social standing, the lower classes left at the cruel will of their dictators, and The Eye and the Wall dives right into those classic themes. Especially in regard to its aesthetic, it immediately has a gritty, humbled quality, creating a strong atmosphere of fear and struggle. It’s matched with a mix of tense music and well-chosen silences to round out setting the scene of toil and tyranny. However, while the cinematography works well, there are a number of visual elements that aren’t matching up to that. Its use of effects and costuming in particular stand out, they can’t manage to match a futuristic feel. Neither have much to add and the result is that they unfortunately cheapen the other aspects.
However, the story does feel like much we’ve seen before, for the most part. It starts out well, splitting its focus between Alba (Porras) and Lucre (Coronado), bringing different generational perspectives. It dabbles in a love story with Alba and Abdel (Alzate), dealing with illness and death in an impoverished community, and the choice between trying to topple the establishment and searching for a better life for yourself. As it moves forward, it throws in a few unnecessary elements and begins to travel down a fairly convoluted road. Ultimately, that becomes its downfall as the further it goes, the more distracted it feels and doesn’t present a clear focus.
The cast all present a strong front, while Cecilia Porras presents a youthful, more optimistic and motivated character, Yolanda Coronado displays the side beaten down by an unfair system and left with little hope for farfetched happy endings. The two bring a nice balance, it’s only a shame there isn’t more room to get to know their characters more. There’s a similar weakness with the cast presenting the villainous members, there isn’t sufficient time to establish a real power, or the fear that they instil, their presence feels overly simple.
The Eye and the Wall taps into classic themes of dystopian cinema but misses out on a bigger impact. It starts out with some great elements but doesn’t capitalise on them, instead coming across fairly one-noted and gets distracted throwing unnecessary aspects into its story, rather than growing the emotion, risk and fear at play. It’s a solid cast but they’re not given the room to really flesh out this story and give you something to root for.