See For Me Tribeca Review Randall Okita

Randall Okita’s amusingly titled See For Me is centred on a mobile application by the same name. In a tricky premise where the protagonist Sophie (Skyler Davenport) is handling three intruders in a house that she is cat-sits at, it is the app that acts as the rescuer. And to top it all, Sophie happens to be blind.

A former skier who wants to live life her way, Sophie did not quite let her blindness take over her spirit. She is brave enough to be in charge of not just the cat but also a large house which is quite a den of mystery. The first trigger of excitement occurs when Sophie gets locked out of the house and seeks the help of the iPhone app ‘See For Me’. With adept army veteran Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy) at the other end, Sophie’s reentry into the large estate house is smooth yet not devoid of thrills.

Clearly, it is the refreshing projection of technology that infuses Okita’s film with much-needed freshness. Inside the house, Sophie encounters three robbers. The production design, the lighting, and the original score ask us to be invested in their activities while also being terrified for Sophie. However, the intruders never appear as interesting as the film wants them to be. They are violent, have weapons and their intentions are dubious – yet never menacing enough. The angle that keeps us interested is that of Sophie, Kelly, and a mobile phone that is slowly running out of battery. It is a chilling cat-and-mouse game while it’s not a movie version of a fun video game recording.

See For Me also contains a conventionally staged sequence involving a policewoman who drops by to investigate a report of home intrusion. This is, again, a part that could have had more meat to let the villains and their activities take finer shape. It never does. The intriguingly characterised cop goes out of the picture way earlier in the film.

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Sophie is the most exciting element in Okita’s film and the actor Skyler Davenport does not disappoint there. Be it the fear, the agility, or the overall grip they have over their (Davenport identifies as non-binary) emotions, the actor explores various shades in their first leading role. Parker Kennedy as Kelly forms the perfect foil to Davenport and their chemistry is what lends the maximum gravitas to Okita’s film.

See For Me is an arresting thriller with its plot driver being technology. Besides the leading players, it is also technically proficient for the genre it chooses to explore. While the sharp cinematography (Jordan Oram, Jackson Parrell) and the minimalist colour palette lend a great deal of atmosphere to the film, the sound design enriches the film with the right mood. Despite notable rambling stretches in the screenplay (Adam Yorke, Tommy Gushue), See For Me turns out to be a confident effort from Canadian filmmaker Randall Okita.

Rating: ★★★

The film is being screened at the 2021 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival.