Blue Eyelids Review
Unusually for a Mexican film, at least in my experience, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on small incidental details in Blue Eyelids (Párpados Azules), but that’s probably because there’s a distinct lack of anything large in the lives of the film’s two lead characters, Marina and Victor, two lonely characters in the metropolis of Mexico City, working dull ordinary jobs, who are about to find their dull ordinary lives brought together by unusual circumstances.
Something large looms on the horizon for Marina Fanfán (Cecilia Suárez), an employee at a store selling uniforms. The eccentric owner of the company (Ana Ofelia Murguía), who has founded her store on a dream, wants to give all her employees an equal chance of happiness and success, offering each year a prize to an employee at random – a 10 day all-expenses-paid break for two at the fabulous resort of Playa Salamandra – and the winner this year is Marina. Marina however doesn’t have a friend or partner to go along with her, and when her sister unexpectedly lets her down, she invites Victor Mina (Enrique Arreola), a man she has just met in passing while shopping. Victor claims they went to school together, but although Marina doesn’t remember him and doesn’t remember anyone in their class that he speaks about, she takes a chance and asks, out of the blue, if he will join her on the holiday.
Victor, who is struggling to get by himself, trying to find a better apartment, but unable to afford even the most basic on the meagre wages he earns, accepts. Before they go away they decide to get to know each other better and the film, for the larger part, focuses on the blossoming – or perhaps stagnation – of a relationship between two shy, ordinary people, who don’t really know each other, haven’t much to say to each other and who would appear to have nothing in common other than a big holiday together looming on the horizon.
The beauty of course is in the detail. Blue Eyelids finds numerous little ways to show the nature of each of the characters, the absence of anything significant in their lives and the awkwardness of their attempts to get together. Even a simple thing like Marina calling Victor at work takes an eternity, since he’s not listed in the main directory and no-one at the company has heard of him – but the patience and the faith with which Marina holds on during the process of this search speaks volumes for their respective positions and the determination, or perhaps desperation, for their relationship to work out.
Just as effectively, the film also finds a means to explore their search for something larger, something more romantic, intense and sexually fulfilling, anything to transform the mundane reality of their existence. Quite wonderfully, the film doesn’t feel the need to betray its characters by showing them pretending to be anything different from what they are (in one sequence perhaps even a bit more graphically than one would like to see them). They each know the failings of the other and know that they haven’t exactly hit the jackpot in the hand that fate has dealt them. Such is the nature of how the film depicts this odd but at the same time completely normal relationship that the viewer begins to doubt that Marina and Victor will ever even make it through to the date of the holiday together. Even that simple pleasure seems beyond their reach.
Music plays a large part in those inexpressible desires of Marina and Victor, and is evoked in a wonderful original score and selection of songs, but their dreams are most wonderfully expressed in a visit to the cinema. Awkward, with time on their hands and nothing to say to each other in the hour before the film starts, their lives are transformed the moment the reflections from the silver screen fall across their faces in the sparsely populated auditorium. Blue Eyelids weaves the same magic, colouring and framing the film almost like a fairytale, one where the characters are fully aware of the reality, but know that the power to create their own Cinderella stories lies within themselves.
Blue Eyelids is released in the UK by Axiom Films. The DVD is in PAL format, and is encoded for Region 2.
I usually have nothing but praise for Axiom Films’ DVD releases, and Blue Eyelids is no exception, or rather it is exceptional in as far as it has one of the best transfers I have seen recently on a standard DVD. The image is sharp and detailed, the colouration soft and natural, but also showing tremendous definition. The print is unmarked and the transfer shows no evidence of artificial enhancement, progressively encoded and flowing smoothly with perfect stability. It’s a lovely looking film and the transfer here really brings those qualities out. Flawless.
The film comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. The 5.1 mix is obviously the track of choice, and although it remains centrally focussed for the low-key nature of the majority of the film, it bursts into life with depth and dynamism in the appropriate places, particularly in the use of music and at a dance hall where everything opens up.
English subtitles are provided in a clear white font and are optional.
Interview with Director Ernesto Contreras (18:31)
The director describes Blue Eyelids as a human story with universal themes that take it beyond its Mexico City setting. He talks about how he strived to achieve a timeless quality also, using classic Mexican films from the 40s and 50s as references, and covers all the aspects of the making of the film on a low-budget, from the process of the scripting to the casting and shooting. He promises that there is more varied new Mexican cinema of this type which is good news.
Making of Blue Eyelids (21:56)
The making of is nicely put together, showing a lot of behind the scenes shooting and focussing mainly on the on-set ambience. The feature covers the making of the film from the casting and rehearsals to the premiere, injecting some interview comments, and ends with a little montage of outtakes.
Deleted Scene (4:07)
One deleted scene, a celebration of Victor’s birthday by visiting relatives is appropriately dismal and low-key, but does take away from the main thrust of the film.
A Stills Gallery of 20 production stills and a Trailer (1:31) wrap up the extra features.
“You’ve got this strange affect on me …and I like it”, sings Ray Davies in the film’s key song, and it seems to sum up the low-key beauty of Blue Eyelids. This is a lovely, lovely film – sensitively scripted, delightfully performed and filmed with a keen eye for expressive colour, nuance and detail, a film capable of haunting your memory for ages afterwards. The quality of Axiom Film’s DVD release only makes viewing even more of a pleasure.