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Friday, June 15, 2007

Abre Los Ojos

A Spanish Matrix:Abre Los Ojos (Open your eyes)
From there Amenábar launches into a romantic thriller developing into illusion mixed of thriller-mystery and finally verging on science fiction drama, in which real life becomes inter-meshed with programmed dream-life.
Ingenious, imaginative film keeps you guessing until the end. Although the plot is confusing at times, a second viewing helps to untangle and resolve the complicated story about dreams and reality. Most of the time, I was not sure if what I was watching is really happening or whether it is a intensely disturbing nightmare. The ending is tense, mysterious and it keeps you guessing to the last what really the truth is.

César (Eduardo Noriega) has been left rich by his restaurant owning parents. When he meets the beautiful Sofia at a party he uses her as a way to escape his jealous ex girlfriend Nuria. After a night of talking with Sofia, César is picked up by Nuria who crashes her car deliberately killing her and horribly disfiguring him. With surgery limited as to what it can achieve César despairs at his loss (his looks, not Nuria) and tries to pick up with Sofia. However, when surgery returns his looks he thinks everything is solved – but his dreams become more vivid blurring his sense of reality. In flash forwards we also see César talking with a psychiatrist in a guarded mental hospital where he waits trail for murder . César is wearing a mask because he thinks his face is still messed up. The psychiatrist tells him that his face looks normal, he asks him if he remembered anything. He tells his fragmented story to a psychiatrist. His life in shambles, Sofia beyond reach, and virtually a freak of nature, he decides to take one last step in regaining his lost life... and here is when the film becomes something totally unpredictable.

The last act, in which everything gets explained (or does it?), is truly inspired. As Cesar finally understands the implications (this bad dream is one he himself has invented) the film becomes truly impulsive. It's a deranged but entirely gripping climax to a movie which takes one unpredictable turn after another. At the level of writing, you have two friends, one the protagonist, the other his conscience. The protagonist deals with two girlfriends, one affirms his self-image, one destroys it; Towards the end of the film, we are presented with two alternating theories of what is going on.

One is that the hero is living in a virtual world that he can only be revived from when he "dies" in it, and the other is that people who want access to his money want to con him into making that happen, only for real. The final act of the film is a constant struggle between these two theories that the viewer is only made aware of when they both teeter on the edge of victory.

Only when mystery gets "explained" to him does he realise how ridiculous it all is. Thin line between dream and reality disappear. He tries to achieve realistic (or illusionist) death in the end and then the nightmare starts again. It would appear that in the world of "Abre los ojos", anything is possible.

This review is impossible without mentioning Vanilla Sky .I mean not only is it a remake of ALO(Abre Los Ojos) but it's almost scene for scene the exact same movie .In fact Penelope Cruz in the exact same role as the original! The ending of Vanilla Sky pretty much explains everything. Abre Los Ojos leaves most of it up to interpretation and the viewers' imagination.

The acting is very rich, believable and many times raw with emotion and character. The visual imagery is absolutely stunning at certain points. A scene that takes place in a park when Penelope Cruz and Eduardo Noriega meet for the first time after his accident is incredibly beautiful and emotionally devastating. There is quality photography in the film: The rain in the park and before that the reflections of foliage flashing in the car windows with glimpses of tense faces. This surrealist fantasy from Spain is a unbelievable piece of cinema. Despite pain of watching it with subtitles, Open Your Eyes is a tale of beauty.

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