Friday, September 3, 2010
A ojos cerrados **
Director: Hernán Jiménez
Cast: Carol Sanabria, Anabelle Ulloa, Carlos Luis Zamora
A ojos cerrados is the kind of movie that relies on basic, sometimes cheap, means of manipulation to secure its "connection" with the audience. In its particular case it uses cute senior citizens to win half the battle in spectator acceptance.
When the movie begins, we meet Gabo (Zamora) and Maga (Ulloa) a couple who have been married for decades.
They have breakfast, quarrel, go shopping, sit in rocking chairs and do almost everything together. They live with their granddaughter Delia (Sanabria), a big shot executive on the rise who disregards her superior's orders but always gets the job done.
At home though, Delia reverts to a childlike state and rests on her grandma's lap while pondering the whys of life.
Things change when Maga passes away, leaving Gabo in a state of limbo with which Delia must deal on her own. They are surprised to learn that grandma wanted her ashes to be spread in the Caribbean Sea and here the director recurs to yet another handbook method of manipulation: the road movie.
During the trip to the beach, grandpa and granddaughter will obviously get to bond and help each other, but here the film runs into its biggest mistake, because we never really understand why they should be bonding to begin with.
We assume from the start that Gabo has become a father figure to Delia, so when the film begins treating them like strangers it gets lost in its own attempts at playing with feelings.
What's evident about A ojos cerrados is how disconnected the filmmakers are from the characters. These people feel like they were obviously written for the purpose of existing for the film's running time and then be just over and done with.
The characters then, are more prototypes (not even archetypes) of actual human beings and become puppets that move only to please the filmmakers' wishes.
This whole game is even more disturbing because the characters are practically asexual. We never know what happened to Delia's parents and even if an obvious explanation isn't necessary, the movie seems to pretend they never existed.
They obviously are the main connection between Delia and her grandparents and by cutting them off (more like castrating them actually) the film loses any evidence of sexual awareness.
Delia never mentions friends and much less boyfriends and her grandparents, straight out of a fairy tale, seem to have found her in a basket.
In the process, given how conservative Latin American society can be, turns the grandparents into saints and the movie into a phony attempt to create nostalgia for universal values that are basically concealing the truth