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'The Voyeurs' is provocative peek into forbidden realm

Phil on Film
The Voyeurs
Posted at 12:02 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 13:02:57-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Does an open window mean an invitation to peek inside? "The Voyeurs" chases the question down a harrowing rabbit hole.

The drama, which debuts on Prime Video Friday, is a thought-provoking dive into the act of voyeurism as entertainment.

In a society enraptured with social media overshares, it's easier -- and more socially acceptable -- than ever to gawk at the lives of others as entertainment, as though the people you're watching are just characters on your favorite TV show.

That's the plight in which the protagonists find themselves. Sydney Sweeney and Justice Smith play Pippa and Thomas, a young couple who moved into a Montreal loft.

They can't help but gawk at a couple across the way, which keeps its blinds open, giving them a full view of their sexcapades.

Starting by watching the couple in a joking manner, Pippa and Thomas quickly become obsessed with them.

Egging one another along, they drift from casual peeping to full-blown surveillance.

They find themselves caught up in mini-dramas they only partially understand, and the growing obsession begins to affect their relationship and land them in hot water.

Sweeney, who impacted the HBO series "Euphoria" and "The White Lotus," steps up her game in her first significant film role.

Penetrating a sheen of innocence that harbors darker inclinations, she creates a captivating performance that anchors the film.

Her chemistry with Smith is palpable. Best known from his roles in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" and "Detective Pikachu," the actor delivers an easygoing, confident performance, hinting at an uneasiness with the situation.

Director Michael Mohan, who directed Sweeney in the Netflix series "Everything Sucks!" shows a strong command of humorous and thriller elements, interweaving them to the effect that the movie opens with the tone of a silly rom-com before sinking its teeth into something deeper.

Using minimal sets, he tells the story with the economy of a stage play.

Even if it's maybe a little too cute for its own good, with perhaps one twist too many, the film never lets its hooks out of you. Challenging and engrossing, "The Voyeurs" is a haunting film well worth watching and discussing.

It beckons with the irresistible invitation of an open window.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4.

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