Saturday, August 10, 2013

924. Abre los ojos/Open Your Eyes (1997)

Running Time: 117 minutes
Directed By: Alejandro Amenabar
Written By: Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil
Main Cast: Eduardo Noriega, Penelope Cruz, Fele Martinez, Najwa Nimri, Chete Lera
Click here to view the trailer


Switching gears now, we jump to the other end of THE BOOK and start working our way backwards for a little bit. The last movie that I had left in THE BOOK, prior to this evening's viewing, was "Open Your Eyes" - the original version of the 2001 film "Vanilla Sky".

The film, as THE BOOK puts it, is actually one of those films that would do well to be given two viewings, so that the viewer may sop up all everything they can once and then go back through with everything that they learned the first time around. However, the basic plot isn't THAT confusing, so I'll give you the short & sweet version and we'll go from there. Cesar (Noriega) is a handsome, rich, playboy who never spends the night with the same girl twice and who can basically have any woman he wants. During his birthday party, his best friend (Martinez) shows up with a friend, Sofia (Cruz), who Cesar hits it off with. They become acquainted when Cesar is trying to avoid ex-girlfriend Nuria (Nimri) and uses Sofia as a way to keep the ex at bay. He ends up spending the night with Sofia (talking, no funny business) and the next morning, when he leaves her apartment, he is picked up by his ex. With feelings of rejection simmering over, Nuria opts to crash the car with Cesar inside, disfiguring his face severely. Now, plans to reconnect with Sofia and pursue a relationship are basically null & void, as Cesar seeps into a deep depression over the loss of his good looks. The story is told in flashback as Cesar is being detained in a psychiatric detention center, where he's awaiting trial for murder. Wearing a prosthetic mask, so that his disfigurement can be disguised, Cesar recounts his story, dreams and memories to his doctor, Antonio (Lera).


Of course, not only are we going to be talking about "Open Your Eyes", but having seen it, I also have no choice but to bring "Vanilla Sky" into the conversation as well. Which one is better? Well, if you go online, particularly to IMDB, you'll find some people getting quite enraged, trying to fight to let their opinion heard. The ones who prefer "Open Your Eyes" are usually, quite adamantly against "Vanilla Sky" and then there's the VS supporters, who are probably children of Hollywood films, perhaps people who don't see a lot of foreign films. While it HAS been quite a few years since I've seen VS (probably 5+ years, in fact), I was astounded at the similarities between the two pictures, that I was able to remember. I really expected this to be a far superior version of the story and honestly, the two are EXTREMELY similar. I mean, unless your a BIG detractor of Tom Cruise (which, hey, I'd understand that) then I really don't get why you'd get in such an uproar defending the original, especially when the two are basically carbon copies of one another. Granted, there is something to be said for the originality of the first one, the grittiness and the fact that it more resembles a thriller, but I'd rate them both very closely on the 1 - 10 scale, to be totally honest with you.

Onto my opinion, which is positive. I really dig the story and perhaps it's because I find the ideas fascinating. In fact, I've always been fascinated with dreams and the process of dreaming. I'm not sure the particulars on why we dream or how we dream, I just know that I've always enjoyed dreaming, waking up to reflect on a new, usually quite odd story that I just happened to conjure up while I was unconscious the night before. "Open Your Eyes" takes the concept of dreaming and mixes it with the concept of cryogenics, another fascinating, scientific idea. Here, the actors are quite good and I have really come to enjoy the talents of Penelope Cruz, having seen her in some Pedro Almodovar work and some Woody Allen work, she's definitely an actress I need to take note of. If I had anything negative to say, I'd just say that I wished I'd seen this one first. The story of "Open Your Eyes"/"Vanilla Sky" is one that really only works to full effect on first viewing. Once you know the secrets and the twists, it just isn't as powerful the next time and the next time and so on. I call it the "I See Dead People" effect - once you know the boy sees dead people, it's just not as fun anymore.

RATING: 8/10  No matter how you slice it, whether it's Cesar or David, Cruise or Noriega, Crowe or Amenabar, this is just a really good story and one that, even if I already know the twists, I always enjoy.


August 10, 2013  1:40am


  1. This is not good.. I've seen this, and VS.. but for the life of me, cannot remember anything about them. I recognise bits you mention.. but rack my brain as I will,.. do not remember the 'I see dead people' type ending.
    I will try and find time to at least have a look at this in the next day or two to see if it all comes back to me..

    1. Well maybe I misspoke about the "I See Dead People" ending. What I meant was that once you see this film once and figure out all the answers, it just doesn't work quite as well the second time or third time or so on. It's not that there's this big reveal at the end, it's just that there's a lot of twists and turns and once you've seen it, it isn't AS effective. Still effective, just not as much.


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