This is a damn fine movie. Engrossing, clever and finely hammered out, Open Your Eyes is a serious piece of cinema from young Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar.
It’s the story of a young Spanish playboy, César (Eduardo Noriega), who aside from being rich, handsome and, on the surface, very charming, is also something of an asshole. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want to be seen with the same woman twice as it would ruin his reputation. That all changes when he meets Sofia (Penelope Cruz.) Something about her touches him where no other woman had previously and suddenly, the playboy finds himself in love.
Sounds like the beginning of nice romantic story doesn’t it? Well, don’t let that fool you. Shortly after this film takes right turn towards the loony bin and never looks back. as almost immediately César is horribly disfigured in an accident. Wait, "horribly disfigured" doesn’t do it justice. Let me try again… César’s face is so wrecked it’s almost impossible to look at even with the knowledge that it’s all movie magic and that’s just the beginning of his troubles…
I’ll leave it at that so as not to spoil the real surprises in this film (and there are plenty of them), but let’s just say what follows is something to savor. It’s a reality blurring, troubling trip that will leave you uncertain until, literally, the last frame and does so with a sophistication that is surprising in such a young director (Amenábar was 25 when he wrote, directed and scored the music for this film.)
Most highly recommended. Also, note that Amenábar’s next work will be here in the states and features Nicole Kidman. It’s a sci-fi project called The Others and it’s due out sometime in 2001
This review originally appeared in June 2000 in Boston's Weekly Dig (now digBoston.)