I might have to write a few bad words about Randall Okita’s See For Me, but for what its worth my problems with it aren’t the same as the ones that other critics have. Some aren’t big fans of the first act. They wrote that it doesn’t deliver on the dialogue and the setup, but I disagree. If anything, the movie’s first twenty minutes is solid. It breathes life into its protagonist Sophie Scott (Skyler Davenport). She is a young Olympic level skier who goes blind because of a hillside accident.
The movie gives her a chance to build certain dynamics with her mother (I love an OnlyF*ns joke) and her temporary boss Debra. It’s obvious in these scenes that Sophie detests condescension, but it’s something she must contend with because of new body. After all, she’s playing cat sitter for Debra in the latter’s secluded mansion in Upstate New York. Maybe those critics were right in some ways because of how it handles scenes when Sophie finds her equal. Sophie begrudgingly downloads the titular See For Me app, an app her mother suggests she downloads.
The fictional See For Me is an app that connects blind people with people with typical vision, guiding them through their surroundings. One of those guides is Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy), who splits her time between guiding and gaming. Her rapport with Kelly is strong enough to make her keep the app which comes in handy a few hours later. By then, three men break into Debra’s mansion. Shots during this second act focus on Sophie’s face, and Davenport takes advantage of these close-ups. It’s as if they instinctually know to give what any thespian in a leading role should.
A few things that might ruin a movie with otherwise great lead characters like Sophie and Kelly would be hammy side characters or, as I previously mentioned, bad setups. The first of the two main things that ruin See For Me is Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue’s script that, despite its good first act, falls apart by the second. This second act involves a police officer, a type of character that appears in many heist movies. Part of the reason she stays longer in the house is because that’s her job. But the other more bothersome part involve the forced coincidences that keep that officer in. A cellphone goes off suspiciously, etc. What happens to her also doesn’t make sense, without giving too many spoilers away.
Home invasions are a subgenre and there are fun examples of that subgenre, but this also means that there’s an uncanny valley between a fun subgenre movie and a bad one. Sometimes that valley is steep, but the valley here, despite being shallow, is still heading towards the lower curve. Fine, maybe I’ll tread on a few spoilers here, but Sophie gets the cop’s gun. Kelly’s reaction to that change of events seems intentionally yet subtly hilarious. That is until I realize “ugh, this movie turned itself into a videogame where Sophie’s goal now is to kill these thieves one by one”. It’s not like the movie becomes totally unwatchable after this mild shift. Although here’s when the camerawork and lighting get too art-y. Lastly, Kim Coates appears and is the second element that ruins the movie.
See For Me hits theatres on January 7 and is available on demand on January 11.