My Eyes Are Up Here


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

My Eyes Are Up Here
"Morris keeps us guessing as to where the film is going."

It’s the morning after, and Sonya (Jillian Mercado) moans, rolls over...and falls out of bed. Many readers will doubtless relate. It’s not because of her disability, beyond the fact that anyone might be at least temporarily disabled at 8am after a night of too many whisky sours. Tom (Ben Cura) is woken by the noise and tries to help her, but she insists on taking care of herself – a good call, given that he too plainly has difficulty standing. He needs coffee. He suggests they have some together, but when she discovers that the condom broke, Sonya is anxious to get to a pharmacy, and she would rather do that by herself.

Unable to help, Tom is at a loss. “I’m an assistant,” he feebly protests. “That’s what I do. I assist.”

He is not her assistant. He works for the place where she’s currently doing a modelling job. Does that make their one night stand inappropriate? Outside, the two have an uncomfortable encounter with his boss which reveals the limits of her respect for Sonya as a fellow professional. Sonya’s handling of it only makes Tom go more weak at the knees. Unable to get rid of him and not wanting to be outright mean, Sonya lets him tag along. She’s annoyed by what she takes to be an undue amount of fuss occasioned by his perception of her as vulnerable. Viewers will quickly wise up to the fact that he just doesn’t want her to drift out of his life.

There is a lot of ableism in this short film, which screened at Tribeca 2023. Condensed as it is into a ten minute journey, there’s a risk of it seeming overblown, but as every visibly disabled person knows, there are days like this. The frantic hostility of two teenage girls on a bus speaks to the terror which many people seem to have of acknowledging human variation. Sonya handles it with no difficulty, but what director Nathan Morris highlights here is not just the experience of abuse, it’s the distancing effect which it creates – the difficulty in allowing intimacy when one is used to being on one’s guard. It’s part of what awes Tom but it also serves to keep him at arm’s length, so she doesn’t notice what seems obvious to another character – that he could be quite a catch.

Will the two of them figure it out? That’s by no means certain in a twisty little screenplay which keeps presenting new obstacles and distractions. Sonya values her independence. She has a busy career. She likes sex but she’s not looking for romance. Morris keeps us guessing as to where the film is going. What’s for certain is that after watching it, you will want to spend more time with her, too.

Reviewed on: 12 Jun 2023
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My Eyes Are Up Here packshot
Sonya is a super-busy, sought-after model and dating doesn't really fit her lifestyle. A one-night stand with a clumsy but considerate man might just change her perspective.

Director: Nathan Morris

Writer: Arthur Meek, Aminder Virdee

Starring: Jillian Mercado, Ben Cura, Pooky Quesnel, Colin Hoult

Year: 2022

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: UK


Tribeca 2023

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