Eyes of Laura Mars

1978

Eyes of Laura Mars

Critics Consensus

Eyes of Laura Mars hints at interesting possibilities, but they're frittered away by a predictable story that settles for superficial thrills.

46%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 24

43%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,288
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Movie Info

Eyes of Laura Mars has an intriguing premise -- which, alas, is abandoned halfway through in favor of gratuitous violence. The title character, played by Faye Dunaway, is a high-priced fashion photographer, specializing in gory "murder" layouts. When Laura is plagued by visions of genuine murders, she at first dismisses this as a by-product of her kinky specialty. And then she begins telepathically witnessing the bloody killings of her friends and co-workers, as seen through the eyes of the actual killer. Anyone who can't guess who the murderer is within five minutes deserves to be drummed out of the theatre in disgrace. Tommy Lee Jones does what he can with an underdeveloped role, while Rene Auberjonois steals the film as a belligerently flamboyant homosexual. Watch for talk-show host Bill Boggs and future LA Law star Michael Tucker in minor roles.

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Critic Reviews for Eyes of Laura Mars

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (13)

Audience Reviews for Eyes of Laura Mars

  • Oct 16, 2014
    An American giallo about a controversial fashion photographer who became a sensation over her depiction of violence and death in her photoshoots. However, someone who was obsessive over her began killing her friends, relatives and ex lovers in the fashion of the deaths depicted on her photos. Laura unfortunately was able to see through the eyes of the killer, will she find out who her killer was? I could see the effort but it was no where nearly innovative enough to entertain me. I like the soundtrack though and it was possibly the only redeeming factor. It was interesting to see Tommy Lee Jones at such a young age. However, it the Laura's visions could have been better filmed, it might have stimulated my interest more. I think it requires more gore and graphic violence to be truly a giallo film, but it was a good attempt anyway.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Sep 15, 2012
    Eyes of Laura Mars is the sort of film that's only engaging because you'll spend the whole run time trying to figure out if you're smarter than the filmmakers. Up until the end, of course, when you find out that of <i>course</i> you are. This film was an interesting discovery for me, more so because of who's <i>in</i> it and who <i>made</i> it than for its content. The movie was written by John Carpenter (yes, THE John Carpenter) back in his post-Assault on Precinct 13/pre-Halloween days, and it was directed by Irvin Kershner, who would later go on to direct The Empire Strikes Back. Better still, the cast includes the likes of Faye Dunaway (back when her career still had traction), a shockingly young Tommy Lee Jones, Rene Auberjonois, Brad Dourif, and even Raul-freaking-Julia, who's absolutely wasted in the role of the jealous ex-boyfriend-shash-obvious red herring. So what kind of movie resulted from such a spectacular assemblage of talent, you ask? Honestly, a fairly standard mystery thriller-- one that hinges upon a dramatic conceit that is neither adequately explained nor satisfyingly exploited to its full dramatic potential. See, the whole point behind the movie is that Laura Mars is having psychic flashes of a serial killer as he commits his crimes... but she's seeing through <i>his eyes</i>, and therefore has no idea who the killer is. But even by the end of the film, we have no idea <i>why</i> she's having these flashes; she just IS. And worse, the conceit is never used in a clever way-- like, say, during a stand-off between Laura and two of the suspects, both claiming to be innocent. Nope-- all it does is give us a mediocre device for creating suspense, and implies an inexplicable connection between the killer and the heroine that is completely unearned. It's a half-formed idea in a sea of half-formed ideas, making for a half-baked film that <i>seems</i> to be trying to make a statement about violence, art, and censorship, but never manages to say anything coherent on any of the subjects. Eyes of Laura Mars is about, well, Laura Mars, an avante garde photographer whose controversial depictions of sexuality and violence have caused a quite a stir in the art world. As her work is just starting to make a splash, however, she starts being overcome by disturbing visions-- visions of the grisly murders of her friends and co-workers by a man with an icepick, and all of it from the perspective of the killer. At first she tries to ignore the visions, but she soon discovers that they aren't just delusions: her friends and co-workers really ARE being killed, one by one, and she is witnessing the murders with the perpetrator's own eyes. She is soon hounded by dedicated police detective John Neville, who has discovered that the killer is not only after Mars' loved ones, but is in fact staging his murders to re-create the images of violence in Mars' own work. Horrified by her visions and forced to question her own culpability in the crimes, Mars begins to fall for Detective Neville just as the suspects begin to line up: the effeminate-yet-aloof art dealer, Donald Phelps; the scruffy chauffeur with a police record, Tommy Ludlow; and the jealous ex-husband (who happened to be sleeping with one of the victims), Michael Reisler. As the bodies pile up, Neville searches desperately for the real killer... but can he find her before Laura sees <i>herself</i> through his eyes? As I said, the cast for this movie is pretty phenomenal. Faye Dunaway does a fairly good job as the shy, conservative, yet artistically liberal Laura Mars, a woman who is always covered up despite her taste for photographing women topless. While Dunaway does a great job in the quiet dialogue scenes and character-building moments, she has a tendency to go over-the-top during the thriller sequences, bugging her eyes and wailing hysterically. This is balanced nicely by the always-deadpan Tommy Lee Jones, who, as it turns out, was a surprisingly athletic, good-looking guy back in the day (sure, his face is still craggy in places, but his jaw is as square as a cartoon character's). Not much to say about him, really; he's Tommy Lee Jones, just with longer hair. Rene Auberjonois (from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) pops up as Laura's art dealer, Donald, and for a good while there, I thought he was going to be the killer because <i>you'd never see it coming</i>; the guy is so flamboyantly feminine and "artistically inclined" (*coughcough*EUPHEMISMS*coughcough*) that you'd never imagine the guy busting out ice picks on unsuspecting supermodels. Now Brad Dourif, on the other hand, was <i>clearly</i> groomed to be Suspect #1, what with his wild hair, his scruffy beard, and his violent, prison-flavored past; he was SO obvious of a choice, in fact, that I wondered if the filmmakers weren't just handing us the killer's identity on a silver platter. But thankfully, the film had a little more wit than <i>that</i>. And then, there's Raul Julia. As Michael Reisler, Julia is barely in the movie, showing up in only two scenes as a materialistic weasel before fading into the background for most of the movie. I love the guy, but Raul really got the short end of the stick here; had Reisler actually been the killer, it would have been <i>tremendously</i> disappointing, because he's barely even a participant in the plot. But then again, that's what makes him so ideal a suspect-- like the paramedic in Friday the 13th part V. 'Cause that movie turned out great, right? The story was by John Carpenter, as I said before, but the script was by Carpenter and a guy named David Zelag Goodman, who also wrote Logan's Run and Straw Dogs. As a result, it's hard to say how much of Carpenter is left in the script-- he was still just a struggling writer at the time, and his script was purchased on spec, meaning that he really had no control over it once it landed in producer (*shudder*) Jon Peters' lap. But there are hints of Carpenter throughout the story, with the film's Italian giallo influences and the obvious preoccupation with the killer's point-of-view (a concept he would manage to refine and perfect in his subsequent film, Halloween); the whole thing just feels flat for a Carpenter movie, though, and I have to wonder if Goodman and Peters are the reasons for that. Irvin Kershner manages to pick up some of the slack with his measured direction, making good use of muted colors, deliberate framing, and the occasional lens filter; unfortunately, the pace feels lackadaisical, and the fact that the whole thing is brightly lit throughout robs it of much of its dramatic punch. Fundamentally, Eyes of Laura Mars is a film that lacks for a <i>point</i>. It uses photography and the art scene as a backdrop for a by-the-numbers thriller plot, but it never pays off the connections to art or photography. It also never bothers to explain why Laura can see through the eyes of the killer, nor does it provide enough dramatic incentive through the <i>use</i> of this device for us to overlook such a huge plot hole. But Eyes of Laura Mars isn't without its merits. It's a great artifact for film lovers, giving us a glimpse of the formative years of some of Hollywood's brightest up-and-coming stars of the time, as well as providing insight into the creative processes of some of its most formidable filmmakers. So there's a little more to Eyes of Laura Mars than you might see on the surface; it all just depends on how you look at it.
    Darik H Super Reviewer
  • May 14, 2011
    One of the great American giallos, Eyes of Laura Mars is an unsung little thriller masterpiece. Very little gore and violence is actually seen taking place, but the score makes it a hell of a lot more thrilling than violent content could. I can't believe I've gone all of these years without seeing this gem. I don't want to brag and say I knew who the killer was right from the beginning, but I kind of did. I just knew there was something very off-kilter about a certain character (those who have seen it will know who I mean). Very Argento-esque, it reminded me a lot of Opera and Suspiria. A truly underrated classic of the genre, to be sure.
    Tim S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2010
    A great film but I was sad at the end when Tommy Lee Jones (John Neville) was the killer. Worth a watch & a classic 70s film :)
    Cassie H Super Reviewer

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