Warbots lead to love in this flawed but nifty flick

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Eye On Juliet
Opens May 18
3 out of 5

After the hard-hitting Rebelle and the fierce Two Lovers and a Bear, it’s no surprise writer/director Kim Nguyen has chosen a gentler piece as a follow-up. Eye on Juliet is a romantic drama in which drones act as an accessory to amorous pursuits in unexpected ways.1

Recently dumped by his girlfriend, Gordon (Joe Cole, you may remember him as dog food in Green Room) is on the brink of a nervous breakdown. His behaviour has started to affect his job operating security robots remotely. In the midst of his pity party, Gordon becomes smitten with a young North African woman who hangs out near the pipeline his ’bots are protecting.2 The girl’s parents have arranged her wedding, unaware that she has a boyfriend and hopes to escape to Europe with him. Particularly susceptible to love stories, Gordon tries to help, but he causes more trouble than good.

Even though the premise has potential and the visuals rise to the occasion, Eye on Juliet leans heavily on corniness. The “growing tension” hardly registers and the final five minutes are blatantly borrowed from a certain classic ’90s travelogue. That said, Nguyen succeeds at creating moods and mixing tones. The setting is not conducive to romance and yet, you buy it. Eye on Juliet’s biggest triumph is the use of war technology as storytelling device. The Quebec filmmaker regularly incorporates non-traditional elements to well-trodden paths, an approach that — while not always successful — lifts him above most of his Canadian peers.

Nguyen has opened a movie in each of the last two years — rare for Canadian filmmakers — and he has another one in the can. The Hummingbird Project, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård and Salma Hayek, is his most high-profile effort to date. Nguyen is definitely having a moment.

As opposed to the ways you’d expect drones to act as accessories to amorous pursuits, I guess?

Pipelines are and will always be the worst no matter how many cherub-drones they have.