Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sad King

Cerrar los ojos/Close Your Eyes (2023) - Erice Screen Shot 2024-05-23 at 12.33.05 PM Screen Shot 2024-05-23 at 11.49.44 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-23 at 10.21.33 AM Screen Shot 2024-05-23 at 1.27.02 PM Screen Shot 2024-05-27 at 12.56.50 PMScreen Shot 2024-05-23 at 1.47.13 PM It's been 50 years since Victor Erice made The Spirit of the Beehive where he introduced a wide eyed, then 6-year-old, Ana Torrent to us. And it's been 40 years since his last feature, El Sur came out. So, what does the now 83-year-old director come up with, after all these years? Close Your Eyes is a masterpiece that celebrates the history of cinema and its workers- directors, actors, editors and even researchers. It brings the big emotional ending that shows the power of cinema as well, not in a grandiose, self-congratulatory way, but somber, melancholic way he always has done in the past. And it’s beautiful.

Set up like a mystery and a film within a film, Close Your Eyes tells a retired filmmaker, Miguel, in search of an actor and friend Julio, who disappeared on the last day of filming his never finished film, The Look of Farewell. It a producer of a TV show, Unresolved Cases, that initiates Miguel to talk about his famous actor friend, Julio, who vanished 30 years ago, leaving his daughter Ana (Ana Torrent, now 57 years old) to grow up fatherless. It stirs up Miguel's past as he digs up memorabilia from the storage spaces for the production of The Look of Farewell and reconnect with not only Ana and his old flame but with his editor friend who owns impressive number of films in film cans including footages from his unfinished film.

He comes back from Madrid to his tranquil existence in a small coastal fishing village where he tends to his dog, vegetable gardens and spends his days fishing. But the news of Julio's reappearance disturbs his tranquility, and he is on the road again to locate his old friend. Julio who doesn't remember his past, has been working as a handyman in a retirement home run by nuns. With the help of nuns and the worker of the facility, Miguel approaches his old friend who doesn't recognize him. There's an old remnant of him, carrying a picture of a Chinese girl who was in the film, and a tango tune he whistles. Miguel is determined to have Julio's memories back, with Ana's help and showing him the footage of his unfinished film starring Julio.

More than anything, Close Your Eyes is a tribute to cinema- the strange power of it that mesmerizes and enraptures us. Erice understands the iconic power of image. He understands time passing and its melancholy as well. Sad king indeed.