Open your Eyes review

:. Director: Alejandro Amenabar
:. Starring: Eduardo Noriega, Penélope Cruz
:. Running Time: 1:57
:. Year: 1997
:. Country: Spain

"Open your eyes, open your eyes" the alarm clock of the main character repeats tirelessly in the opening scene, like a programmed warning launched to the spectator who must be receptive and weary of what follows. This the main trump card of Open Your Eyes by Spaniard Alejandro Amenàbar, who spends his time playing with the logic of the audience, intermingling real or dreamed scenes, mixing up possible leads and by extension our spirits.

Cesar is a young rich playboy, who going from conquest to conquest has still not found his ideal woman, until the day he meets Sofia. This happiness found at long last will be annihilated by his former lover, Nuria who in a final gesture of desperation crashes her car into a wall, leaving Cesar disfigured. This new "Phantom of the Opera" is reunited with Sofia, whom he ends up killing. Or is it Nuria? Or is this all the fruit of a dream or madness?

Alejandro Amenàbar succeeds on several levels.
First he demonstrates that Spanish cinema is not limited to the soft perverse insanity of Pedro Almodovar or Bigas Luna, even if the presence of Penelope Cruz, already an object of obsession in Jamon Jamon, seems to show the opposite. Second, the Alejandro Amenabar, who is also the screenwriter, takes a sneaky pleasure in destroying this spoiled brat by taking everything away from him when he takes away his good looks since he has no interior beauty that could save him. Finally he links real and imaginary scenes with a sadistic precision where irony is omnipresent When everything becomes too pretty or as cheesy as a Michelle Pfeiffer fairy tale, almost to the limit of ridiculous, Amenabar destroys this happiness and the scene with the following: a harsh return to reality or a nightmare? Also, in terms of characters, they're too one dimensional to be human, like his best friend, so full of complexes but always present, even when Cesar steals his girlfriends, and Sofia, the girl of his dreams who succumbs so quickly to his charms.

Yet the film also sins with its length and its tendency to slip into what its mocking: the romantic scenes, where one no longer knows if this mockery is real or virtual, by the image of the film. Also, it's cheap side and its arrival in the U.S. at the same time as heavyweights Matrix and Existenz in virtual cinema seems to disarm the originality and the plot, that yes has Matrixian accents. To conclude, the film ends as we figure out it will halfway through..

Open Your Eyes remains a good exercize for brains softened by longs "siestas".

  Fred Thom

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