A Million Eyes: BRWC Raindance Review

A Million Eyes: BRWC Raindance Review

The world, damaged as it may be, is an inherently beautiful place. You can find that beauty in the most unexpected of places, including the very scars humanity paints across the natural wonders that surround us. In Richard Raymond’s short film, A Million Eyes, Leroy (Elijah M. Cooper) can see beyond the garishness of destruction and finds something worth capturing for eternity. It’s just a shame all he has is a broken 35mm camera to do that with.

Leroy lives with his mother Amber (Katie Lowes), who suffers from alcoholism, in East Lake, Georgia. He explores his hometown with his broken camera, endearing himself to abandoned buildings overrun with graffiti and plant life. As he does his narration tells us “Sometimes it’s the busted-up things that have the best story” and Leroy desperately desires to tell those stories, or at least to experience them any way he can. So much so that he finds himself on the wrong side of the law for stealing from the public library.

He then spends a brief period in juvenile detention during which he discovers the concept of a muse from a fellow inmate named Pyro (Shareef Salahuddin). Leroy knows for sure from this point; he knows he’s an artist. His mother greets him with a gift when he gets out, a working version of the camera he carries around. He can now immortalise the world around him the way he always pretended to. He returns to the buildings and the plant life and takes it all in before finally, Leroy begins to try and take a photo of the one thing he loves above all else, his mother.

A Million Eyes is a gorgeous short. The cinematography by Jarin Blaschke is a highlight of the experience with every shot furthering the constant theme of beauty in the bleak. From Pyro’s artwork, which he creates from inside the walls of his cell, to the saddening final image, Blaschke does brilliant work. Raymond also brings his A-game directing his young lead to a stirring short film debut. Most importantly the world he creates exists as a perfect snapshot, not needing to go further and not feeling too small.

The script doesn’t provoke any new thoughts or inspiration; there’s not all that much dialogue. You see A Million Eyes far more than you hear it, the narration is the most prominent sound in the film, and almost all of it is about seeing and experiencing. The core of the narrator’s experience is that Leroy wishes he had a million eyes so he could see a million things. We never realise the scope that this notion promises despite the fact that delving further into this concept could have made for a wondrous story, but in the end, it’s more of a passing thought.

I’m happy it didn’t go deeper though. The writing takes Leroy as far as he can go in this format and while that may leave the lives of these people stuck in stasis without a genuine conclusion, at least it all looks pretty.

Everyone sees the world differently, and Leroy is someone who sees it more distinctly than most. His journey may not involve much of a story, but his eyes make for an incredibly vivid experience. The way he sees the world is a pretty damn great way of seeing it and as a short film, that makes A Million Eyes worth watching.

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Mark is an Australian who likes movies, a lot. Now he studies and writes about them. Will watch anything Scorsese has ever touched.


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