(1997) dir. Alejandro Amenábar
After seeing The Others which I thought was excellent, I was definitely up for catching up on the prior work of the director, Alejandro Amenábar, and Abre los ojos seemed like a perfect rental. It was also playing in the theaters in its American adaptation as Vanilla Sky, which I wouldn’t be too hot to see since I care not for Mr. Tom Cruise. Anyways, it had a lot of connections.
It was pretty good, actually. Certainly, not great, but good.
It has this strange low-key surrealism that unfolds in a muddle of flashbacks. The films addresses issues of time and place and reality in a Twilight Zone meets Spanish language soap operas. The whole tone of the film gets a little lost in its centering in the melodrama of the mundane tv film-like pieces. Visually, as well, this film looks pretty soapy. It’s very light and modern and not overly cinematic.
But at the same time, the story has some interesting turns and keeps you interested. And the payoff comes as the story pieces itself back together.
I had the added surrealist experience of deja vu during this film, as having seen the trailer for Vanilla Sky, I had a pretty good synopsis of the entire storyline, including a few master shots that are copied film to film. It’s quite weird seeing a film in a totally different language with (almost) totally different actors that echoes so heavily with a film that I have never even seen.
It just goes to show how much of the story they give away in that trailer.
Also, this was my second Penelope Cruz film. I had seen her first in All About My Mother, but then all of her hype and stuff came along and then she was the ‘it’ girl of 2001 and now she is history…Go figure. Anyways, she wasn’t all that great in this film, though she didn’t have much of a part. Attractive? Yes. As an actress? Don’t know.
As for Abre los ojos, mixed feelings as well. Defintely not as strong as The Others but not bad. Better than the trailer for Vanilla Sky.
What the hell does Vanilla Sky mean anyways? At least this title made sense.