OPEN YOUR EYES (ABRE
STARRING: Eduardo Noriega, Penélope Cruz,
Chete Lera, Fele Martínez, Najwa Nimri
2000, 117 Minutes, Directed by:
Handsome womanizer César is disfigured in a car wreck, and as he attempts to
pick up the pieces of his life, bizarre situations and events seem to occur as a
result of his accident.
Don't get me wrong - I would
not wish a horrible car accident and subsequent facial disfigurement on anybody.
However, my sympathy would perhaps be deeper were it inflicted on, say, Jean-Luc
Picard or Peter Parker, etc. rather than on our protagonist César (Eduardo
I didn't really like any of the
characters in Open Your Eyes – if our actions define our character then I
am glad that these guys are fictional. They are generally very aesthetically
pleasing though (notably, Penélope Cruz and Najwa Nimri), and in the context of
stylish camera work in some fairly stunning locations these "beautiful people"
lend fresh credibility (as well as eye candy) to an interesting sci-fi flick.
. . . and the film is
true sci-fi, acting as backdrop to a simple story of self-hatred and subsequent
redemption. It is to the detriment of the story's conclusion though that the
redemption is fully internalized by our arrogant "hero" and is not achieved through any
benevolent action towards others. This dulls the emotional resonance of an
otherwise engaging conclusion. On the plus side the audience is most definitely
left wondering what might happen next.
Our attention is retained
throughout while it is gradually revealed to us that everything is not as it
seems in César's world. During this process our leading man's emotional state
becomes increasingly fraught as he subconsciously punishes himself for his
previous misdemeanors; César is shown to be a selfish and rich womanizer when
moving in on his best friend's girl (Cruz) during a party at his swanky bachelor
pad. The big reveal of the film is well paced in its execution and the story
crescendos nicely as matters go from bad to worse and strange to stranger.
However, I think this film
fundamentally suffers from an identity crisis: does it want to be a sci-fi film
or a straight drama? The sci-fi element is not quite substantial enough to take
the lead (if this review were not on a sci-fi movie review website you might not
know there was any science fiction element until somewhere past the halfway
point). The more conventional story elements, though quite intense and emotional
at the time, are denied much of their appeal once we find out what has actually
happened to César. There is a danger that one might feel that any emotional
investment in the characters during the first half of the film has not paid it's
Despite the above misgivings
Open Your Eyes is an enjoyable and gripping high-concept film. It is also a
whole lot better than it's Tom Cruise-infested remake,
- Geoff Clayton