Open Your Eyes


Object of affection: Sofia (Cruz) is the woman of Cesar and Pelayo's dreams....
aka Abre los Ojos
dir Alejandro Amenabar
scr Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil
with Eduardo Noriega, Penelope Cruz, Chete Lera, Fele Martinez, Najwa Nimri, Gerard Barray, Jorge de Juan, Miguel Palenzuela, Pedro Miguel Martinez, Ion Gabella, Joserra Cadiñanos, Tristan Ulloa
99/Spain 4½ out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Spain seems awash with talented young directors being touted as The Next Almodovar (as if he's even close to retiring!). Amenabar actually has more in common with metaphysical filmmaker Julio Medem (The Lovers of the Arctic Circle), and Open Your Eyes goes one step further. It's a smart metaphysical thriller that fits together tightly as a more intelligent, inventive take on a recent blockbuster (which will remain unnamed in the interests of spoilage).

Cesar (Noriega) is a handsome young man who has inherited a business and a fortune from his parents. His best friend Pelayo (Martinez) can't compete on any level, and is more than a little nervous when he introduces Cesar to his new girlfriend (Cruz), the girl of his dreams. Of course, the womanising Cesar can't keep his hands off. But first he has to deal with a recent conquest (Nimri) who's stalking him ... and tries to kill him in a car crash. Cesar's good looks are shattered in the accident, and so is his sanity. He begins to confuse people and events until his grip on reality begins to slip seriously. Can a helpful psychiatrist (Lera) sort things out?

The story reveals itself masterfully, cutting back and forth in time until we start to understand the big picture, which is fairly mind-bending. The actors create honest, interesting people we can really care about--drawing us into the tricky, increasingly frightening story with real emotion. Themes of identity, self-esteem, romance and especially dreams versus reality are examined on several layers. And Amenabar juggles everything brilliantly, dropping lots of clues and red herrings before finally letting us in on the secret. The ending makes us catch our breath not because it's so clever, but because there's so much to the film even without the final revelation.

[15--themes, language, sexual situations] 29.Feb.00
UK release 25.Feb.00

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"I just wanted to say that I love this movie very much. My friend showed it to me without my ever having heard of it. I had no idea what to expect and I was completely enthralled. So refreshing to see an intelligent, well put together film outside the pool of usual poop America cha-chings out. Frightening, angry and enlightened, the story unfolds into a mysterious universe of dream-time and confusion for the always understandable protagonist. Wonderful music and cinematography. Subtle, believable acting. Tender, tense and terrible moments will leave you begging Amenabar for more. A must see if there ever was one." --Sjmcfad, net.

"This was the most amazing films I do believe I have ever seen. The acting is absolutely superb, and the ending leaves you begging for more. This movie was everything a movie should be: tragic, funny, heart-stopping, confusing, absolutely superb, spectacular, fabulous ... you haven't seen movies til you've seen Amenabar's Abre los Ojos!" --R Kramer, net 15.Apr.01

"It's fantastic in concept and reminds me of La Vida Es Sueno, a play from Spain's literary golden age, 17th century playwrite Calderon de la Barca's work for theater with the play of reality against dreams. When someone leaves your door and you don't see them for awhile, where do they go and what brings them back to you?" --Bob Bow, Abilene, Kansas 22.Mar.02

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© 2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall