Open Your Eyes
(Abre los Ojos)

Open Your Eyes (Abre los Ojos)
Made in: Spain
Language: Spanish
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Starring: Eduardo Noriega, Penelope Cruz, Najwa Nimri, Fele Martinez, Chete Lera

Synopsis: One of many famous Spanish movies in recent years, Open Your Eyes is a very interesting mind-f*ck about Cèsar (Eduardo Noriega), a young, wealthy philanderer living off his deceased parents' inheritance. Much of the film is told in flashbacks, with an imprisoned Cèsar recounting the story over multiple sessions with Antonio (Chete Lera), a psychiatrist.

After dumping Nuria (Najwa Nimri), his latest conquest, Cèsar becomes interested in an aspiring actress named Sofìa ( Penelope Cruz ). Sofìa happens to be dating Cèsar's much plainer friend Pelayo (Fele Martìnez) who looks like one of the Monkees. The charming Cèsar wins over Sofìa, with whom he feels closer to than any other woman he's been with.

Soon afterwards, Cèsar gets into a serious car accident thanks to a jealous and unstable Nuria, which leaves Cèsar's face horribly disfigured.

As he struggles to cope with the social and psychological implications of his appearance (since his good looks pretty much mean everything to him), Cèsar finally discovers not only true love with Sofìa, but also a way to finally restore his face.

Just as his life begins changing for the better, Cèsar notices that everything is not as it seems.

The very fabric of reality begins altering, as his fears, desires, nightmares, and dreams begin blending together at random, pushing his sanity to the brink.

But eventually Cèsar discovers the truth, and comes to a revelation that forces him to face the perceptions of ideal happiness and fulfillment both despite and because of outward appearances.

The Good: Open Your Eyes is a convoluted, confusing movie that's hard to wrap your head around...however it all makes sense in the end. You might have to watch it several times (and take notes), but the film is very well done.

Amenabar creates a psychological thriller that's part drama and part science fiction, and at times you'll think of it as a classy version of Total Recall, minus the explosive buffoonery of Ahh-nold.

Thematically, Open Your Eyes addresses the issue of outward appearances, and how they often influence our perspectives (and prejudices) to greater degrees than we realize.

But Amenabar also portrays the human mind as being powerful enough to triumph over the fears and prejudices rooted in superficial impressions.

All of these philosophies work their way into the film without compromising the story's pace, preserving a good balance between exposition and action. The acting and dialog are all realistic, and it's great to see a pre-Hollywood Penelope Cruz deliver a solid performance.

Overall, Open Your Eyes is unpredictable, creative, and will keep you engaged until it ends.

The Bad: Hollywood took the idea for this film and remade it into a movie called Vanilla Sky, directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Tom Cruise. Now I'm not here to trash Vanilla Sky (mainly because I still haven't seen it as of this review), I admire Cameron Crowe, and have nothing personal against Tom Cruise (so far).

But after watching Open Your Eyes, I honestly don't think it needs to be remade. Amenabar did a great job on this film, and although it's a bit challenging, many Americans would appreciate it on its own merits.

Fortunately, Amenabar's original is relatively easy to find online or at your local video store.

Who would like this movie: This movie is for you if you're the kind of person who likes deep, thought-provoking topics. You'll also like this movie if you enjoy discussing, debating, and analyzing films with your friends after you've seen them.

Open Your Eyes will give you plenty to talk about, such as society's obsession with looks, relationships, fantasies, and familial issues.

Watch this film all the way through from beginning to end- don't watch bits and pieces at a time because you will get lost.

For aspiring filmmakers, writers, storyteller, etc., watching and analyzing this movie might broaden your thinking and strategizing when it comes to outlining your latest project.

When I finally do get around to seeing Vanilla Sky, I'll include a review of it on this site.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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