an existential quest around two disappearances

Miguel Garay (Manolo Solo) in


Fors the parsimonious temperament and the confidential reputation of Victor Erice (four full-length films in fifty years of career), one would have frankly no valid reason to play placed the Spanish scenario writers. It is necessary however, just to recall the current cinephilic ratings, which give, approximately, something like: 1. Buñuel, 2. Erice, 3. Almodovar. Still there would be opinions to reverse the first two places. Poetry obliges. Thereupon, Victor Erice, commander of an art of hallucinated realism, an old ghost of cinematographic magic right in his boots, returns to 83 years old after thirty years of absence.

The film comes to us after a stage in Cannes which did not go perfectly, Erice, absent from the competition, having himself disinvited from the Festival. Like the previous titles (The Spirit of the Hive, South, The Dream of Light), Close eyes programs an existential quest, collides with the mystery of the soul and the page of time, questions the vocation of art, suggests that beauty does not emanate so much from the visible as from our way of experiencing it .

We are in 1947 at the castle of Triste-le-Roi, in France. An old Tangier Jew by the name of Levy, majestic and defeated, who has only a few months to live, brings a private detective to his oriental home. He entrusts her with the mission of finding his daughter Judith in Shanghai, who disappeared with her Chinese mother and has been removed from her affection since childhood. He senses that it’s probably the last person in the world to be able to look at him differently. The total romance, the sulphurous taste for adventure, the characters larger than life: all this smells of his cinema, in the most clic sense of this term.

Romantic machinery

Which is good since we were in a film clip. After the cut, another scene opens, in Madrid, in 2012, on the set of a reality TV show called “Unsolved Mysteries”. It is a question of discovering what has become of a famous actor, Julio Arenas, who disappeared twenty years ago without leaving a trace while he was in the middle of filming. The shooting is obviously that of the film of which we saw an extract a moment earlier, in which Arenas played the role of the detective. As for the show’s special guest, it is Miguel Garay, the director of this film and best friend of Arenas, who lends himself with relative grace and laconic caution to this television exercise.

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