Take My Eyes Review
Frantically, Pilar (Laia Marull) gathers together her belongings, packs them into a few bags and leaves with her youg son on a night bus for her sister's house. Her marriage has hit the buffers due to her husband, Antonio (Luis Tosar) and his ongoing physical and verbal abuse but Antonio turns up to plead with her to return and accepts to seek therapy. As months pass, Pilar occasionally meets up with him and notices he seems to be changing. Against her sister's advice, she accepts to go back home and start again from scratch.
With an even handed approach, writer-director Icíar Bollaín provides an interesting but inevitably gruelling film on the problem of domestic violence in Spain. Most films on domestic abuse tend to view things solely from one side - or even push things to ridiculous extremes as anyone who had the misfortune of sitting through J Lo's dismal Enough will tell you. However, this film takes little from the Sleeping with the Enemy school of film making and much more from the realistic Loachian approach to a societal ill. Bollaín goes to great lengths to flesh out the societal context that in part excuses Antonio's behaviour and deals with the complex emotions of love and hate that imbue these abusive relationships. It never seeks a simple take on any aspect of it and as a result, makes the film far more powerful. The lead performances by Marull and Tosar are flawless, allowing us to fully empathise with their characters and as result draw us closer to their situation. Take My Eyes is a bold and honest film that fulfils everything it sets out to achieve, but will naturally grade low on the entertainment value but that's to be expected.
The image is somewhat lacking in contrast at times and appears quite somber but globally, it is a competent transfer that shows only occasional print damage and artifacting. It does not seem to have been given an anamorphic transfer which is most unusual for films nowadays and a dissapointment.
The stereo mix is ample given the nature of the film. The dialogue tends to remain centred with occasional stereo effects finding their way into the mix. The voices are clear and the subtitles keep up with what is being said, but the subtitles are burnt-in which is a shame.
Beyond the obvious trailer, we get a short film (20 mins, 4/3) by the director on the same theme. In fact, many scenes from the short find their way into the feature film and the lead actor is also the same. It takes a pseudo-documentary approach which gives it a more political spin as well as a more direct approach to the problem. It will probably spoil your enjoyment of the main feature given the similarities so I recommend not watching it until you've finished with the main film. A good extra which is all too rare on releases of Spanish films this side of the channel.
A trying film to watch but a film that really does its utmost to be honest to the topic and attempt to find a realistic voice on the topic. The DVD release gives us a decent extra and good sound and image. Worth investigating especially for those who want to delve beyond the mainstream Spanish releases.