Revered Spanish auteur Víctor Erice returns to feature-length direction some 31 years after his last feature, the award-winning Dream of Light, and he does it with a deeply searching, masterfully told story of an actor’s disappearance.
Close Your Eyes
Revered Spanish auteur Víctor Erice returns to feature-length direction some 31 years after his last feature, the award-winning Dream of Light, and he does it with a deeply searching, masterfully told story of an actor’s disappearance, and the echoes of effect that event has on a few close people.
A film within a film, Close Your Eyes takes us right from the beginning to The Farewell Gaze, the movie that was supposed to be the second feature by Miguel Garay (Manolo Solo) but was never completed, in which an ailing, wealthy old man hires a former fighter of the anti-Nazi resistance to find his daughter in Shanghai. Soon enough, we are informed that the actor playing the protagonist of that film, Julio Arenas (José Coronado), disappeared in the early stages of the shoot. It was thought he had an accident by the sea, although his body was never recovered. As such, we get to know Miguel, the taciturn former director, who left the business to lead a quiet life in a small coastal town. Many years later, his participation on a TV show that deals with unsolved mysteries reignites his search for closure, for which he’ll bring along Ana (returning icon Ana Torrent), Julio’s daughter, a woman who grew up feeling orphaned.
Erice’s meta narrative allows him to explore further his recurrent themes of memory and absence; the materiality of cinema as a mirror of time passing or being captured; and the deep, emotional resonance of music and human gestures. His touch is felt in every painstakingly crafted sequence, every symbolic detail moving the story forward, taking the audience on a journey that rewards patience and empathy. It might have taken Erice decades to complete this new offering, but the resounding, heartfelt results prove that he has quite a lot to say and consider.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
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