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flick pick | Open Your Eyes 
[Abre los Ojos]
Directed by: Alejandro Amenábar
Written by: Alejandro Amenábar, Mateo Gil
Starring: Eduardo Noriega, Penélope Cruz
Language: Spanish [with English subtitles]
Look for it at the video store under:
foreign [Spain]
Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something: artsy-fartsy, mindbending 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5

Plot synopsis César [Noriega] is young, handsome, wealthy, and supremely satisfied with his position in life. Just about the only thing he has to complain about is that his sometime bed-partner, Nuria, has lately been pushing for a real relationship. Unfortunately for Nuria, he’s just not in love with her. When Nuria shows up uninvited at César’s birthday bash, César’s more than a trifle irked, and ends up turning to a beautiful new acquaintance named Sofia [Cruz] – who also happens to be his best friend’s date – to help him escape from Nuria’s persistent presence. César charms his way into taking Sofia home at the end of the evening … and after staying up all night doing little more than just plain talking with her, leaves her apartment the next day and finds he’s fallen in love. Unfortunately, that very same morning he makes a very, very bad decision. He gets in a car with the scorned Nuria, who’s so angry and hurt that she drives the car straight off the road. The terrible accident kills Nuria and leaves César horribly injured. Despite all his money, which buys him access to all the best doctors and all the latest medical techniques, César’s formerly beautiful face is left a disfigured mess.

Review I really, really wish I had seen Open Your Eyes before I’d seen Vanilla Sky, the Americanized remake directed by Cameron Crowe – there’s something so wrong about comparing the original to the copy rather than vice versa. Better yet, I wish Vanilla Sky hadn’t been made at all – it’s such a literal copy of the Amenábar’s much-lauded little movie that it’s not entirely clear to me why they wasted the money to make it. As it stands, I’m pretty sure that Vanilla Sky ruined my ability to fully appreciate Open Your Eyes: when your first exposure to an idea is a really good copy, it makes the original look less, well, original. Which is totally unfair, of course. But enough with the comparisons. Open Your Eyes still offers a mind-bender of a plot: what starts off looking like a simple cliché story about a guy who thinks he has it all only to discover that he’s missing the most important thing of all, that being love, gradually reveals itself to be something just a tad more complex. The love story turns into a suspenseful thriller, then morphs into the realm of sci-fi, as we begin to question whether Cesar’s story is reality, or merely his own crazed delusions, or something much stranger altogether. The narrative meanders backwards and forwards in time – the past tumbles into the present merges with dreams – constantly thwarting your expectations and throwing new loops into your attempts at finding an explanation for exactly what it is that’s going on. Factor in the excellent, subtle acting – I like Penelope Cruz so much better when she’s speaking in her native tongue – and some gorgeously surreal scenes, and you have one arty European film that’s as entertaining to watch as it is beautiful and thought-provoking.
—reviewed by Y. Sun

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