User Reviews (27)

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  • I watched this film late last night with the intention of just seeing the first half then and saving the rest for later. It didn't work out this way due to the fact that "Eye of God" is so utterly fascinating and potent a movie; you just can't take your eyes off the screen!

    Martha Plimpton is truly unforgettable as Ainslee. She explores the nuances of her interesting character realistically and intelligently, adding her own unique charm and talents to the role with spellbinding effects. She really deserved a lot of praise and awards for this part!

    Actually, all of the performances in this film are excellent, from Hal Holbrook's brilliantly understated sheriff to Kevin Anderson's chilling, masterful performance.

    The plot couldn't be better constructed or in a more original way. The technique may be off-putting to some, which made me love this film even more; it will probably always be a film that is revered by a small few because it never takes a Hollywood approach to the material, nothing about this film is derivative of something else, so it will seem unfamiliar, alienating, and disconcerting to many.

    It's a film with many moments that are nothing short of gems, a film that stays with you and feeds your mind.

    If you haven't seen it and have even a passing interest in cinema, it's imperative that you track this film down on VHS or DVD; true masterpieces like this should be better known and sought for.

    My rating: 10/10
  • This is one of very few movies that I can actually say changed my life. There has never been any other film or work of art that has had such an emotional effect on me. Martha Plimpton and Nick Stahl are extraordinary; never have I cared so much for two fictional characters. And writer/director Tim Blake Nelson could not have possibly done better for his film debut. This is a movie you will never forget.
  • Lechuguilla21 February 2006
    With explicit references to the Bible, "Eye Of God" is a thought provoking film that explores the effect of religious faith on the relationship between a lonely young woman named Ainsley (Martha Plimpton) and Jack (Kevin Anderson), the prison parolee whom Ainsley befriends. In its realism and its setting in rural Oklahoma, "Eye Of God" reminds me of "Silkwood". Both films are depressing, sad, and have a fatalistic quality to them. Both films explore life and death issues. And in both films, the essential question is not who, or when, or how, but ... why.

    In style, "Eye Of God" is simple, direct, low-key, and personal. There's very little camera movement. Typically framed by doors or windows, most scenes are unobtrusive locked-off shots of characters talking. The cinematography is totally not flashy nor gimmicky in any way. The acting is direct, restrained, understated, and high in quality. Martha Plimpton gives a flawless performance. I was also impressed with the performance of Margo Martindale, in a support role. Further elevating the overall acting is Hal Holbrook who gives his usual raspy voice performance as the town sheriff.

    There's very little score. At times, country songs can be heard in the background. The film opens with the beautiful gospel recording of "Live With Jesus", by Wynonna Judd.

    Some viewers may not like the story's non-linear structure. The film uses time-cuts to force the plot ahead and then back in time in such a way that scenes are not necessarily in chronological order. But the scenes are always thematically related. As the film moves along, the various seemingly unrelated threads come together. And it all makes sense in the end.

    This is a movingly personal film whose theme runs deep. As such, nearly all viewers can connect with one or more characters in some way. The film is entertaining for its high quality acting and for its interesting cinematography. But more than that, this is a film with a profound message relevant to contemporary audiences. "Eye Of God" is one of the best films of the last fifteen years.
  • moses-111 June 1999
    I thought it was quite good. It gave me a feeling I haven't felt since I saw Sleepers. I loved the way the director overlapped scenes, and used flashbacks to tell the story. This is success where Pulp Fiction failed. All the characters were believable, and all the performances were good. In particular, I was impressed with the depth of emotion Nick Stahl portrayed without saying a word for the whole first half of the movie. Sometimes the ending you don't want makes the movie that much better.
  • I love independent cinema, and Eye of God is a great example of what a good independent movie should be. The real-life situations depicted are as twisted as real life is, and the acting is at points absolutely adorable (Plimpton) and absolutely chilling (Stahl). I thought that the cinematography was profound, and that the way the way the plot weaved the story through was brilliant. Maybe it's because I'm easily impressed (by Martha Plimpton; by stories of Twin Peaks-like small-town dramatic horror; by the lengths some writers, directors, and producers go to to create meaningful cinema; or all three, and then some more), but this movie left me feeling like something had happened To Me, and I was shattered and felt uneasy for a good two hours afterward, which I think really is the sign of a good film. Also, as an addendum, whereas some independent cinema seems contrived and at the same time pretentious, this movie was neither. And by the way, I loved it, and you might, too!
  • Jack is released from prison and meets up with Ainsley, a young woman he has been writing letters to for quite some time. Ainsley is a sweet romantic simpleton who doesn't even want to know about the crime that put him in prison. Jack believes that he has been reformed by the justice system and by religion, but he's also a control freak. For strange reasons lost in the mysteries of the human heart, these poor souls decide to start a relationship.

    One can't give away too much of the plot without collapsing the nonlineary framework of the film and ruining its breathtaking effect. So suffice it to say that this recipe for disaster is tossed up in the air along with the biblical story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and with all the theological and ethical problems both of these stories present. Everything builds to a whirling climax of nonlinear convergence and small-scale horror. In the end the audience is brought face-to-face with that grand philosophical theme "the problem of evil," and we find no easy solutions.
  • As random and disturbing acts of violence have become commonplace in America in the past few years -- small town serial killers and schoolyard shootings -- we hear again and again sound bites on the news of these events which indicate that the evidence of an impending tragedy seemed so obvious, it's hard to imagine why no one interruped the chain of events which unfolded in each case. "Eye of God" gives the viewer a powerful and disturbing experience in what these bystanders must have seen and felt. Director Tim Blake Nelson uses a shattered time line to give the viewer bits and pieces of this story, and the convergences of two lives that end badly in a small Oklahoma town. Confusing at first, as it's meant to be, when these story lines fall into place for the viewer like pieces of a puzzle, and the narrative of the plot spirals down to a devastating "ground zero," the viewer themself feels complicit in what has just unfolded. With only a limited theatrical release, and little in the way of video distribution, the best way to see this film is to ask your local video owner (again and again) to order this film. This film is very difficult to digest, and may, in fact, be triggering for abuse survivors. (I screamed and wept with grief at the unexpected death of one character.) But in terms of film craftmanship, it is one of the best movies I have ever seen. The best film yet for Martha Plimpton and Kevin Anderson, a capstone triumph in the long career of Hal Holbrook, and Nick Stahl's understated and heartfelt portrayal of "Tommy" was powerful and unforgetable. All I can say is SEE THIS FILM!
  • Directed by Tim Blake Nelson, most recently recognisable from his performances in Holes and The Good Girl, Eye of God is a story of doomed love and loneliness told out of order.

    Martha Plimpton is Ainsley Dupree (a name I think sounds quite cool and have since used in stories of my own) a waitress who falls in love with a dangerous ex-con (Kevin Anderson). After wondering what the hell she has soon married into she seeks comfort with lonely teenager Tom.

    I liked this movie a lot and the performances were very good all round. Especially Holbrook, he was just so believable as an old sheriff who's seen it all. Nick Stahl is much better here than he was in Disturbing Behavior. I think the last few scenes with him and Martha Plimpton were quite intimate and it really made the whole movie totally enjoyable for me.

    Highly recommended but quite a rare film to come across in stores or on TV.
  • I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, I understood completely the feeling of the place, the time, the people. So many people think that life is simple in a small town, but it is not...all the dark secrets are there, all the illness that everyone attributes to living in large cities is also there.

    I couldn't take my eyes off the screen while I was watching this movie. Sometimes a film does come along that is everything a film is supposed to be.

    If you haven't yet seen this film, please make an effort to watch it, it will be well worth your time.
  • msfilmmaker7 June 2004
    This film is beautifully crafted. Rarely has a jagged time line film been so engaging (films like Memento and 21 Grams copy this style, and only 21 Grams does it well).

    Far from the over-produced fluff Hollywood is famous for churning out - you shouldn't expect your food to be chewed for you here. This is a movie for thinkers. Granted, very early in the film, you know what has happened, but this isn't a "whodunit" or a murder mystery so much as a highly evolved character study that moves with the grace of a swan in a dream. Despite the brutality, despite the violence of the content, the sublime performances and the delicacy of the director's touch enchant you. This is rockabye baby, until the cradle falls from the tree.

    The acting, from all of the characters, is utterly flawless. You don't even see acting at all. It's hard not to feel like a voyeur peeking into this small town reality. The ending, as some others have commented, may be traumatic for those who have survived similar experiences. There are some visually brutal sequences and the camera is NOT merciful. You WILL experience everything right along with the characters... ...and then you will be left in silence.
  • I rented this one just as a Nick Stahl fan but was really amazed by how good it was. The disturbing tone and plot line stuck with me for days after viewing it. Stahl was wonderful as a traumatized boy who is just barely surviving his pain. Stahl's work in this film just hints at the depths of talent we may yet see from him. I don't think that Martha Plimpton has EVER been better in her role as a young woman searching for love and redemption. Hal Holbrook, his face a mixture of world-weariness, sadness and kindness, is the real center of the film and he does an amazing job.

    One of the most moving things about this film was the idea that deep tragedy can strike at the most seemingly mundane of moments. Coupled with this is the concept that one can never really know what is in another's heart or mind. Because of the narrative form, one knows tragedy will strike, but the director purposefully seems to suggest that tragedy could enter into any setting, at any moment, with no warning. The bookend examination of the story of Abraham and Isaac is ultimately successful because Isaac (like the characters and viewer) was asked to have faith without any proof that seemingly negative events may have a positive reason. The director doesn't offer any pat answers to this dilemma, but he does show that tragedy can overwhelm a person.
  • This is a wonderful study of the face of evil and its impact upon the lives of its characters. The narrative is nonlinear and may be confusing at first if one is not warned, but once a viewer is aware of this he/she should have no difficulty understanding the film. The storyline is initially split and follows two seemingly unrelated characters, which are somehow (at first we don't know) linked through a third subplot involving a small-town sheriff and some crime which has yet to be revealed. One storyline involves a teenage boy who has experienced the worst type of loss and is now emotionally alone in the world. And there is a small-town waitress who has established a relationship with an ex- con over years in a pen-pal program. The waitress has a glass-eye which is a symbolic reference to the movie's title. This glass-eye exists in the world of the inanimate, and the scenes of human despair and sorrow are reflected in and across it without judgment, action, or recourse, as the Eye of God viewing this world exists totally separated of its theater. At the film's end we are reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac and that the actions of any Judeo-Christian god are very seldom held up to the same standards to which he holds his people. This movie took my breath away and haunted me for days after I initially saw it. It's memory still haunts me.
  • Martha Plimpton's performance in this film was magnetic. The out-of-order time sequencing technique was intriguing without being confusing, although it teased me into wanting to see the movie again almost immediately. A shocking and bittersweet film, it really captures the interminable dailiness and ennui of small-town Oklahoma and is somewhat reminiscent of The Last Picture Show in this regard. This film raises the bar for all film-making and could be the poster child for independent film-making, especially. Hal Holbrook, Mary Kay Place and Nick Stahl registered uncontrived performances that rang true and clear. This is a provocative, unforgettable, disturbing film.
  • This is a wonderful study of the face of evil and its impact upon the lives of its characters. The narrative is nonlinear and may be confusing at first if one is not warned, but once a viewer is aware of this he/she should have no difficulty understanding the film. The storyline is initially split and follows two seemingly unrelated characters, which are somehow (at first we don't know) linked through a third subplot involving a small-town sheriff and some crime which has yet to be revealed. One storyline involves a teenage boy who has experienced the worst type of loss and is now emotionally alone in the world. And there is a small-town waitress who has established a relationship with an ex-con over years in a pen-pal program. The waitress has a glass-eye which is a symbolic reference to the movie's title. This glass-eye exists in the world of the inanimate, and the scenes of human despair and sorrow are reflected in and across it without judgment, action, or recourse, as the Eye of God viewing this world exists totally separated of its theater. At the film's end we are reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac and that the actions of any Judeo-Christian god are very seldom held up to the same standards to which he holds his people. This movie took my breath away and haunted me for days after I initially saw it. It's memory still haunts me.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you watch this film, you WILL be affected. Although the "mystery" of what happened to the boy is easily deduced about halfway through, it soon becomes apparent that that is not the purpose of the film. Many times a film like this will drag you along with implications of a "deeper meaning" and then end with the "revelation" of who the killer was. Luckily, this one was true to itself and its name "The Eye of God". Martha Plimpton is wonderful, being all too real and therefore all the more tragic. There is strong symbolism here with "consummation of a marriage" and "abortion/murder" and the innocence of children. It is tough to explain without being a spoiler, but for those of you who have seen it : what the "devil" gave her (in a significantly "proper" manner) also drained her of life, which she in turn does herself to someone (literally). Overall, I would rate this as one of the most compelling films of the last few years.
  • Critics say the writer/director slowly brings two stories together. As someone who grew up in Kingfisher, Ok (or a Texas town just like it) the two stories are one: Everyone is connected in towns of that size.

    Critics say the writer/director uses a shattered time line. That, too, is simplistic. As this artist knows, life is not a straight line, because life "occurs" and then on reflection, we discover it "happened." I was 18 yesterday, and I'm 62 now, and like the characters in the film, I've drifted back and forth from event to event. Memory is as real as reality.

    Critics say the religious overtones of the story are the major weakness as the writer/director tries to give "significance" to his tale. Another simplified answer from non-religious, non-small town, non-Southwestern people. "The Prophet," now that's an abundance of religion. Tim Blake Nelson actually under-played religion in this very religious film.

    Another member commented: SEE THIS FILM. I echo those comments. When I take movies to my island....
  • Eye of God, a suspenseful and painfully real story as narrated by Hal Holbrook who plays the town sherriff of an oil town in Oklahoma. He speaks of the story of Abraham & Isaac from the Old Testament with an air of sad resignation and cynicism. His faith in God has been eroded by a harrowing event and he is obviously bitter over it. I would venture to say the screenplay writer has a bone or two to pick with God, and having just seen this film, it's easier than ever for me to say rightfully so. This movie asks over and over again, "Why, God?"

    A local 14 year old boy has just been found by the local cops, in the woods by the lake, completely covered in blood, and in a state of speechless shock. The blood is not his. It's quite evident that he's been witness to a murder.

    As the story unfolds, it becomes quite evident early on in the movie what the outcome of this tragic story is going to be, but this doesn't detract from the suspense created by the film one iota. Wonderfully directed, the story is presented in fragmented pieces of time and space, like the pieces of a jig saw puzzle. You may already have a good idea what it's going to look like when it's all been put together, but the process of putting the pieces together is what keeps the viewer intently interested all the way to the seemingly inevitable conclusion.

    A very well told story, socially relevent, well directed, well cast and wonderfully acted. Martha Plimpton is fabulous in her role as the carrier of the eye of God. 9.5/10
  • I have watched this film approximately five times, and the depth of the acting and brilliant presentation of the plot continue to impress me.

    A small-town girl, played by Martha Plimpton, marries an ex-convict (who has to wear an ankle detector as a condition of his parole) immediately after he is released from prison. What evolves during the course of this movie forces viewers to consider faith versus the harsh reality of dealing who some people truly are at heart.
  • This film is wonderfully acted and well directed. Martha Plimpton has never been better. She plays a diner waitress who falls in "love" with an incarcerated man via a pen-pal relationship. The man played by Kevin Anderson is intensely religious and becomes a more and more controlling force in the life of Plimpton's character. There is a second part of the story involving an emotionally troubled young man who has witnessed a act of terrible violence.

    What is so powerful about this film is the complete evocation of a specific time and place. Without in any way being patronizing this film beautifully observes rural working class life. The film is very moving about gender relationships and the way religion can become a very narrow trap for some people. The one disappointment is that the film plays into "anti-crime" hysteria in its portrayal of one character as beyond redemption.
  • toototango16 July 2003
    Hypnotic content. Wonderful performances. Both my wife and I rate it as one of the finest films we've seen in a long time. Extremely sad but an inspiring lesson in the decency of most people in the face of living in a world that seems, at times, to allow unkindness to triumph.
  • This film seems to have received mixed reviews and it does have a simple storyline when told in chronological fashion. Here the chronology is deliberately set askew to allow the facts of the story to unfold at a slower, more thought provoking pace.

    We read about similar tragedies all too often and never seem to give them the importance that they deserve. This picture attempts to correct some of that. If you really disliked this film see No One Would Tell (1996) (TV) http://us.imdb.com/Details?0117191 which tells a somewhat similar story in the normal chronology and then ask yourself, "Which was more effective"

    Overall, I'd recommend this film to those that care more more about character development than plot points.
  • "Eye of God" is a very ordinary, austere, plodding film about a murder and the events which lead up to it which features Holbrook and a small ensemble cast of supporting tier-two actors. Technically and artistically an okay shoot, this film shows us nothing new, is intentionally predictable, and is filmed on location in "dust bowl" Oklahoma leaving the audience with little to chew on. Not a particularly satisfying watch which manipulates the time domain for effect, "Eye of God" is best saved for broadcast. One can only wonder about the user comments for this flick as, at this writing, 76% of the user votes were (8,9, or 10) above the weighted average of seven.
  • jtur888 December 2000
    I cannot think of anything about this film that I would say in support of rating it a Ten. Except that it was Not Bad. Boy, was it Not Bad!! Aside from the usual little oversights that always annoy me, this film just rolled along without ever collapsing. Even better, it rolled along without every reaching that point at which I say "Well, so much for a nice film!"

    Martha Plimpton, you were superb.
  • Eye of God is a well-crafted independent film that is fatally flawed by its reliance on a current mainstream-film cliche as a central plot element: that any character with religious convictions will be revealed in the course of the film as a psychopath. It demonstrates once more that most filmmakers today have no clue in depicting religious experience in either an authentic or a sympathetic fashion. A waste of talent.
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