Open Your Eyes by Alejandro Amenábar
I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to so-called “psychological thrillers.” There’s this innate desire within me to prove that they aren’t as clever or original as they often think they are. Maybe it’s a competitive thing within me, or a desire not to be outsmarted. Or maybe it’s just the fact that many “psychological thrillers” are neither “psychological” nor “thrilling.” So that’s how I approached Open Your Eyes, with more than a little skepticism.
Open Your Eyes begins with a nightmare, which quickly sets the rest of the film’s mood. Cesar is a wealthy, handsome young playboy. Accustomed to having any woman he wants, he soon becomes attracted to Sofia, the beautiful girlfriend of his best friend, Pelayo. That doesn’t sit too well with the Cesar’s last girlfriend, the psychotic Nuria. When Cesar is involved in a carwreck with Nuria, his life becomes as shattered and fractured as his once-handsome face.
Soon, he no longer knows what’s real and what’s a dream. Is Nuria really dead? Is he going insane? Is he really guilty of a murder that everyone says he committed. He finds himself in an asylum, wearing a mask to cover his hideous face, trying to figure out what happened. Or is he?
I think that a movie like Open Your Eyes is far harder to pull off, in terms of storytelling and effect, than some huge overblown epic. With a movie that has as many layers, twists, and ideas as Open Your Eyes, it’s no easy task to keep it all focused and interesting. One misstep and the movie becomes too disjointed and fractured for it to be a good story, or it becomes boring and predictable.
For the most part, Open Your Eyes pulls it off. You have no idea what’s going on until the last 15 minutes or so. And when you do think you have it figured out, the movie throws a curveball at you, forcing you to rethink everything you just saw. There was rarely a time when I wasn’t caught up in the movie, and even in its slower moments, I was interested enough in the very concept to stay involved in the movie. If I have one complaint, it’s that ending seems a little convenient, but it makes perfect sense within the movie’s context.
Open Your Eyes definitely places more emphasis on the psychological side of things. You won’t find yourself too far on the edge of your seat, but rather, scratching your head and trying to figure out all of the movie’s different ideas. This is a movie that works well with multiple viewings, or in serious hindsight, as you try to peel it away and start to figure out just how the filmmakers put it together.