Short Eyes - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Short Eyes Reviews

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July 27, 2015
A bit disturbing (even for a prison flick)
May 31, 2014
Slightly stagy adaptation still packs quite a wallop.
October 27, 2012
Prisoners roll out the welcome mat for a new child molester inmate. More memorable than most prison dramas for the brutal treatment of the new guy. I learned that short eyes is prison slang for a child molester.
½ October 6, 2012
Thirty-five years on, this story still hold great relevance. One of the more thought provoking films I've seen in awhile.
August 3, 2012
Prisoners roll out the welcome mat for a new child molester inmate. More memorable than most prison dramas for the brutal treatment of the new guy. I learned that short eyes is prison slang for a child molester.
July 19, 2012
This movie had scenes that scarred me for life
January 8, 2012
I became a professional degenerate.

An accused child molester is locked in prison with hardened prisoners. Initially, he does a great job of avoiding conflict and staying unnoticed; however, when he confides in one prisoner, and his story becomes known, it will be harder and harder for him to avoid interactions with other inmates.

"Jesus help me!"
"Because man won't."

Robert Young, director of Roosters, Human Error, Rich Kids, Saving Grace, and JT, delivers Short Eyes. The storyline for this picture is very intense and well written. I was thoroughly impressed by the characters (which reminded me slightly of The Warriors). The ultimate resolve was brilliant and the acting was amazing. The cast includes Bruce Davison, Jose Perez, Nathan George, and Luis Guzman.

"You need help."
"I'm afraid to find it."

Short Eyes was a movie my wife discovered while flicking through the channels and DVR'd based on its potential. I found this movie fascinating and well delivered. The end is brilliant and a perfect turn of events for this wonderful character study. This is not your average prison drama and is definitely worth your time. I strongly recommend this picture.

"I give less than a fuck."

Grade: A
½ December 31, 2011
Another in a long line of gritty prison films, this one makes you feel the enclosed surroundings. Hard to find any redeeming qualities among the characters, other than one moral anchor among the inmates. Centrepiece is vicious treatment of a newly arrived child molestor.
½ September 19, 2011
This movie is not for everybody ;you have to be open minded and ready to see pedophilia ,homosexuality ,violence and cruelty .Although its gets funny its also intellectual and at moments very poetical. Only For philosophers and sophistacated people . Squares and immatures get the hell away from this movie ;its not for u .
August 8, 2011
an unusual, bleak but compelling film based on a play and feels like it....but packs a punch with the realism of prison brutality, mainly with the scenes involving the character of the child molester
June 4, 2010
Short eyes may be one of the most intense and exciting film about prison life out there. It is a truly brutal tale of prison life that gives you detailed insight in the world of these men. What really makes the film work is the realism of it all. There was not one second when I did not question the authenticity of the film. Sometimes it was hard to believe that these were actors on the screen. The whole film pays more like a documentary. The dialogue is sadistically rough here and delivered perfectly by the cast. All this tension and grittiness builds up until the shockingly powerful ending. This is not a film for the squeamish but a worthwhile drama to be sure.
May 7, 2010
A hidden gem from the late 70s, this superbly acted, well-shot, and sensitively written film is a must-see for anybody who believes they can stomach it. With a cast of mostly quasi-knowns, the low-budget Short Eyes is a remarkable slice of prison life, coming directly from a man who lived it (and who wrote and performed the play during his term).

While it's undoubtedly brutal (one of the most brutal you'll likely see), there is actually relatively little violence compared to, say, a gangster movie, or a Coen brother's picture, with there being true bloodshed only at the very end in this case. At the same time, the mood feels darker (and more desperate) than other films that positively drip with blood, because the motives behind the violence feel so human and real. The violence is senseless, but from watching the characters develop and interact you can understand what has led up to this violence, and this need the prisoners have to seize power in a powerless situation.

In Short Eyes Bruce Davison plays a meek white prisoner, husband and father, with a strong history of molesting children. Davison plays him beautifully in a way that makes you half want to hug him, half want to punch him. This is because Clark literally cannot help himself from being the way he is, and yet, as he says, his fear of losing everything that anchors him in life keeps him from preventing further violations against little girls. He isn't excused from what he's done, and yet you could understand how many people in his circumstances would do what he did. This is uncommonly good writing for a low budget '70s prison drama.

The character of Juan, played by Jose Perez (a seasoned character actor in and out of television but otherwise not known very well), is also excellent as a reluctant go-to for Clark, a comparatively down-to-earth prisoner, who is also able to hold his own in a one-on-one. The entire scene in which Clark opens up to Juan should have been enough to earn both of them at least nominations for Oscars; Clark and his sort of fascination with his own past actions, his unconcealed self-loathing. He's then played off nicely by Juan, a sick fury clearly building up inside him all the time he's listening, but carefully held back because of his desire to protect this man from the other prisoners. It is a very moving scene that you hold your breath through the entire time, like a horrific car crash that you can't look away from.

Short Eyes is also one of the better play-to-screen adaptations I've seen- although I don't doubt that much of the dialouge isn't altered, it all translates well for this film, the direction of the photography understated and wise. Nor is there much chewing of the scenery by the actors, the sort of acting trend a movie with a premise like this might attract. All of the performances are so natural and sharp you would believe them to be of real people, pulled out of a New York '70s detention center to play their parts for a quick dollar.

The film does fall victim to a few 70s cliches- the very "hip" score, for one, or the dancing scene around the beginning of the film or the passing transvestites who seemed to have little to do with the plot at all. But these products of the era are never applied so thickly that it makes you cringe to watch, and they do help you get a feel for the environment and time the play was written (the early '70s as opposed to late, as it were).

All in all, I'm of the opinion that it's a crime (no pun intended) that this movie is as unknown as it is. Because even with its highly unpleasant subect matter, again I say that the underlying causes of the unpleasantness are meaningful and real. Short Eyes is available on youtube in full, and I would highly recommend it to you even if you aren't a fan of Miguel Pinero, the genre, or prison films. Peace.
April 6, 2010
Well made prison drama written by Miguel Pinero based on his play (and he has a small role in the film as well) starring Bruce Davison as the title character (which is prison slang for child molester). Davison is amazing in the film, but unfortunately he isn't that much, this is really an ensemble film and about how horribly the prisoners treat each other, especially the child molesters. I think this would have been a much better film if Davison's character was in it more, the scene where he talks to Jose Perez (who also did an excellent job) about why he is the way he is is perfect acting, a very memorable moment.
½ December 25, 2009
Curtis Mayfield's Curtom Films chose this film to be their contribution to the world of cinema. Based on the award winning play, it is a look inside prison life of the 70's in a hardcore New York.
½ October 28, 2009
"Someday I'm gonna be walking down the streets minding my own business and BAM! I'm gonna be shot by some pig, who's gonna swear that it was some mistake. I accept that as part of my destiny!"
½ December 6, 2008
Claustrophobic, intense, uncomfortable, deliberate, relentless and SUPERBLY acted prison film that will make you feel like a shower after you've seen it. Although HBO's "Oz" t.v. show has taken everything in this film and run like hell with it, this is still one of the darkest and most harrowing prison films I've ever seen. Not a feel good film.
January 13, 2008
great movie, very intense. raises some almost philosophical questions about guilt and punishment
January 1, 2008
It's the only child-rapist gets murdered in prison movie with a "Welcome Back Kotter" aesthetic that has ever been made, and that alone carves it a place in cinematic history.
December 23, 2007
Very interesting prison story.
½ September 25, 2007
"Jesus help me: cause man won't" says at the beginning of the film, one of the characters played by the writer himself. A very insightful film into the maximum security prisons. A must for anyone over 18.
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