I don’t know if the psychics profiled in Look Into My Eyes are actually psychics — and neither do they.
That’s part of the considerable charm of the moving new A24 film, which just premiered at the Park City festival and comes from acclaimed filmmaker Lana Wilson, who is best known for the Taylor Swift doc Miss Americana and for last year’s Sundance standout Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields.
It isn’t until the end of Look Into My Eyes that we learn the names of the New York City psychics the film portrays. But through Wilson’s confident, well-paced storytelling, we quickly come to see each of them as caring and compassionate — even if they themselves are at times lonely and adrift.
All have some connection to the performing arts — through fandom, acting or screenwriting — which may feed into skeptics’ suspicion that what they do is just theater.
But, refreshingly, several of them admit on-camera that they don’t know if what they do is real or not. Are they really reading people, feeling out their dark pasts, and getting in touch with their dead relatives? Or are they just fooling themselves and their paying customers?
Look Into My Eyes doesn’t take a position, and how could it? Maybe spirits are operating through the psychics, or they’re tapping into something in the ether. Or maybe they’re kidding themselves that what they feel is real. And of course they could be cons.
But the documentary shows some of the psychics doing an uncannily good job of uncovering troubling parts of their clients’ pasts. One moment stands out — a reading so confident and dead-on that you begin to think the psychic is the real deal. But later, doing another reading, the same psychic seems to totally miss the mark, and admits he’s having trouble.
Look Into My Eyes Doesn’t Really Care If Its Psychics Are Psychic
One of the best parts about the documentary is seeing people admit that they sometimes flail in their jobs, doubt themselves, wonder if they have any special abilities at all. Of course if they believe they have powers from beyond, they must also believe that those powers can be taken away, right?
But whether you buy the psychic thing or not, Look Into My Eyes shows the psychics — or readers, or consultants, or whatever you want to call them — giving very helpful advice.
One woman advises a young genderqueer client that the ancestors strongly support the recent coming out. A young Black man burdened by the fact that an ancestor was once sold for $250 is told that the elder doesn’t want him to have to fight the same fights he did. A doctor who lost a young patient receives comforting words she has sought for years.
People seek out psychics when more traditional avenues aren’t available or aren’t providing much comfort, and in the film, the psychic friends sometimes fill the role of friend more than the role of psychic.
The psychics make no secret of the fact that they have hardships too — professional and deeply personal. Some never saw this as their first choice of career. Some are still pursuing other jobs, or passions.
But at least as seen in the film, all serve the important purpose of propping other people up, and telling them what they need to hear — whether through their psychic powers or just their human ones.
Look Into My Eyes just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Main image: A still from Look Into My Eyes, by Lana Wilson, an official selection of the Premieres Program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
Editor’s Note: Corrects headline.