Abre Los Ojos

Tagged: Film

Film (1997; vt Open your Eyes). Directed by Alejandro Amenábar. Written by Amenábar & Mateo Gil. Cast includes Penélope Cruz, Chete Lera, Fele Martinez, Najwa Nimri and Eduardo Noriega. 117 minutes. Colour.

Playboy César's discarded girlfriend Nuria (Nimri) takes revenge by crashing their car, killing herself and leaves César (Noriega) facially disfigured; his unravelling life seems briefly repaired by his new love Sofía (Cruz) and a suddenly successful reconstructive surgery, but disintegrates again as his face inexplicably reverts to its traumatized version, Sofía's Identity is taken over by a revenant Nuria, and a succession of mysterious ruptures in reality culminate in his killing of Sofía/Nuria. It transpires that most of the film has taken place in a Cryonic dream state gone bad, from which he has been trying to awaken himself after 150 years in autogenic Virtual Reality.

Philip K Dick's Ubik (1969) has yet to be officially filmed, but this is the least embarrassed of its various uncredited versions, though the cryonic hallucination here is solitary rather than shared (see The Matrix). The ascending curve of mystery and Paranoia is effective up until the attempt to explain it rationally, whereupon the air comes out of the setup and the opportunities for further ambiguity are fluffed. Cruz would reprise her role in English in the glossy Hollywood remake Vanilla Sky (2001), an interesting but doomed experiment in attempting to patch the holes in logic and motivation with money and talent; it ends up no improvement. [NL]

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