Close Your Eyes – first-look review

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The long-awaited return of Spanish filmmaker Victor Erice is simply a slow-burn marvel which climaxes successful a series of overwhelming profundity and mystery.

The very thought that location now exists successful nan world a caller characteristic movie by nan long-absent Spanish head Victor Erice is simply a origin for ceremony successful and of itself. That nan feature, named Close Your Eyes, besides happens to guidelines enarthrosis to enarthrosis pinch nan useful upon which he made his name, supremely-lyrical stories that research nan profound intersections betwixt landscape, history and art, specified arsenic Spirit of nan Beehive, El Sur and The Quince Tree Sun, is thing short of a miracle.

The yarn astatine nan centre of Close Your Eyes is 1 that is unfurled pinch utmost precision and nary awesome haste. Miguel Garay (Manolo Solo) is simply a one-time filmmaker and armchair intelligence who now resides successful a beach-hut successful a dowdy coastal marina. We are shown a conception of an unfinished movie he made that he was forced to wantonness – called The Farewell Gaze and which counted arsenic 1 of its leads nan great, forceful surface presence, Julio Arenas (José Coronado).

Miguel is forced to formed his mind backmost to nan making of this funny film, arsenic a TV documentary is being made astir nan abrupt disappearance of Arenas successful nan midst of production. We travel our soft-spoken gumshoe-by-proxy arsenic he re-connects pinch nan ghosts of his and Julio’s pasts, but nan enigma of his whereabouts prevails contempt a persistent interest for his wellbeing.

This first half is slow and patient, taking clip to let america to marinate successful nan lives of these side-players, and watch arsenic we spot a man gradually rekindling his ain fond memories of his clip arsenic a filmmaker and artist. Erice sees movie arsenic an indelible archive of existence, and its done a web of improbable memory-jogs and remembrances – photographs, trinkets, postcards – that Miguel is capable to get person to his missing-presumed-dead starring man.

Despite a procedural facet to nan script, arsenic we amass specifications of what whitethorn person led to Julio’s departure, Erice is much willing successful artfully mapping retired nan mechanisms of quality memory, and really cinema plays a portion successful really we retrieve different group arsenic good arsenic ourselves. Matters return a unusual turn, and nan movie shifts up into a new, much overtly affectional register, climaxing successful a series of staggering beauty and transcendence. What originates arsenic an apparently modest, small-scale drama, ends successful a infinitesimal of ethereal beauty, for some characters and viewers.

Erice seldom allows nan sermon betwixt players to raise supra a whisper, and nan eternal, obsessive frustrations suffered by Miguel stay internalised until a last segment of some belief and cinematic awakening. One characteristic aptly namechecks nan Danish filmmaker Carl Dreyer successful this last sequence, and from present we tin spot that Erice still has nan courageousness and nan condemnation to shape a occurrence akin to nan 1 which still group jaws-dropping successful 1956’s Ordet. Only this time, it’s not evanescent forces of belief fervour that are capable to bring a man backmost to life – it’s cinema.

Published 24 May 2023

Tags: Cannes Spanish Cinema Victor Erice

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