Take My Eyes

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Laia Marull, Luis Tosar, Candela Pena, Rosa Maria Sarda, Kiti Manver, Sergi Calleja

Director: Iciar Bollain

Pilar (Laia Marull) is a young beautiful Spanish woman living in Spain with her husband Antonio (Luis Tosar) and her young son. We meet Pilar in the middle of the night as she frantically wakes up her son, quickly packs a suitcase with their stuff and then they quickly rush out of their little flat to take a taxi to get to the home of Pilar’s sister Ana. Pilar explains that things are not working with her husband and she asks Ana to go and collect some more things for her and her son from the flat. The next day as Ana is collecting the items she discovers medical documents that show that Pilar has been sustaining several injuries. She confronts Pilar with her suspicions that the injuries must have been caused by Antonio beating her up but Pilar responds by insisting that her marriage is none of her business. Despite their disagreements Ana convinces Pilar to get a job at the local museum and she finds herself enjoying it. Antonio tries to convince her to come back to him but she initially refuses, he persists and hangs around her place of work and even starts going to therapy to try and prove that he is willing to change.

Very soon they start going out for lunch and soon enough it begins to feel as if they are dating again and Pilar eventually gives in after Antonio assures her that he will change.

However as Pilar begins to get more and more involved with the museum Antonio becomes jealous and suspicious of her behaviour. He really gets worked up after he quietly sits in at one of her tour briefings at the museum and watches her lecture the audience. His tension finally erupts one morning when he accuses her of purposefully wanting to show herself off, to which he responds by ripping off her clothes and then locking her out on the balcony, naked for everyone to see. This ordeal proves to a breaking point for Pilar as she is now forced to finally accept the possibility that as much as she loves Antonio he may never change and so is she willing to go on with such cruel treatment?

This is a simple realistic tale that is common to any society and even though the screenplay is very well done and the direction is equally good this is an all out character piece. Being a character piece most of the duty lies in the hands of the actors and the two leads here both give equally passionate and believable performances.

Laia Marull plays a woman who loves her husband despite his bursts of anger and constant belittling of her, she still tries to soldier on until reaching a breaking point makes her realise that maybe love is not enough. She gives it her all particularly in the scene where she is forced to stand naked on a balcony as he taunts her, a truly emotional performance.

Luis Tosar plays the verbally, physically abusive husband who truly loves his wife but is so insecure that he misconstrues everything and as such is constantly bursting out in anger. His character is very difficult to handle, as it could easily have been one that the audience would just outright despise, but he manages to evoke some empathy by expressing the fact that even though he behaves horribly he genuinely cares for his wife.

This is not exactly a happy film but it is a very well devised idea that is excellently complemented by perfect performances and as such it is great dram that will definitely make you question the boundaries of love.

4 out of 6 stars