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© 2016 by Bucharest ShortCut CineFest. All rights reserved.

FILM REVIEW

'I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE'
- Directed by Paula Schumann -

“I Spy With My Little Eye” is a heart-warming story about how human closeness can reinforce hope.

In a day hospital, an unlikely friendship develops: Hanne, a mature woman in a wheelchair spends time with Emma, a  blind child. In the bleak environment, the two lonely characters try to chase away boredom and sadness. They cynically make fun of each other’s disability, but their game of irony becomes hurtful at times, making each of them feel powerless and alone.

Though the story is simple, the plot is well-developed and the dialogue is smart and imaginative. The stylistic choices help us understand the inner struggle of each character. From Hanne’s point of view, we see Emma dynamically exploring the spaces she can no longer reach that easily. She likes the kid’s restlessness, but it is also a reminder of her own difficulty to seize the surrounding space. Hanne is portrayed in close shots and, sometimes, the sounds of her actions are heightened,  a detail suggesting Emma’s perspective. The girl understands the world mostly through sound and longs to decipher her friend’s facial expressions. 

The performances of the two women are disciplined and well-paced, as they manage to gradually reveal emotions and build up or release tensions in a matter of seconds. Hanne is had not yet made peace with her past and her uneasiness is visible, while Emma is a precocious child, who learned to live with her blindness, but who is also very sensitive. She is a memorable character, innocent, brave, but also sardonic. Her little story about an elephant and a flamingo that ask the sun which of them is more beautiful shows her contrasting nature.  The insertion of the paper animation illustrating her story is a short moment of insight into the child’s imagination.

We see the relationship of the two females unfold in the geometric space of the hospital where double–pane windows reveal no image of the exterior world.  We appreciate the way the setting supports the story; the hospital is always empty and quiet, an audiovisual metaphor for the inner state of the two characters, subjected to isolation from the world. While Emma is happy dreaming about a better life, Hanne won’t allow herself this treat and wants to keep realistic about her limitations. Their constant mutual injury and relief help them survive the daily waiting for improvement.

The main traits of this piece of work are authenticity and sensitivity. The only disrupting element is the sentimental music, which we find to be a cliché. Otherwise, the plot flows naturally to its end and will leave the audiences with a strong impression.