Open Your Eyes (1997)

Open Your Eyes (1997)

The startlingly surreal Spanish psychothriller that inspired modern cult classic Vanilla Sky

The Very Best

8.0

Movie

France, Italy
Spanish
Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller
1997
ALEJANDRO AMENÁBAR
Chete Lera, Eduardo Noriega, Fele Martínez
117 min

TLDR

If you're new to this and Vanilla Sky, watch Open Your Eyes first.

What it's about

After finding the love of his life, the successful and handsome 25-year-old Cesar loses everything in a car accident and gets thrown into a mysterious dream that makes him question reality.

The take

While the mixed reception of its near-faithful American remake Vanilla Sky might make some viewers pause, there’s an intuitive brilliance in the Spanish original Open Your Eyes that isn’t easy to translate. Sure, the apparent differences help– it’s shorter and less complicated, and Cesar’s face turns more grotesque than David’s does. But what’s startling about Open Your Eyes is the way writer-director Alejandro Amenábar guides the camera through its various shifts, creating a more subtle and gradual realization that something is wrong, and thus, a more terrifying dream turned nightmare. Amenábar has later deemed the film as his worst, saying it was written when he didn't know much about life, but, in our opinion, Abre Los Ojos still holds up as a groundbreaking existential sci-fi simulation, one that still puzzles and captivates years after.

What stands out

Penelope Cruz was casted in both the original and the American remake as Sofia, but there's something much more dreamlike about the way Sofia is portrayed in this film, both vulnerable with the way she interacts with Cesar in reality and possibly cruel with her pantomime helping create a gradual sense of paranoia. Really, it's just nice to see her have more scenes here.

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