As the film chosen to represent the Spanish Film Festival on its posters, be played as the opening night film, and winner of 6 Goya awards (the Spanish Film Academy Awards), David Trueba’s Living is Easy with Eyes Closed, has a reputation that precedes it by quite a few steps. The celebrated film has finally arrived in Adelaide, and it’s easy to see how it has earned such glowing recommendations.
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is the story of charming, yet eccentric English teacher Antonio (Javier Cámara) and his quest to meet his hero, John Lennon, who is in the coastal town of Almería shooting the film How I Won the War. Along the way he meets runaways Juanjo (Francesc Colomer) and Belén (Natalia de Molina). Finding the reclusive Beatle proves difficult, but the trio share enough touching and life-affirming moments along they way to make up for all the effort.
Cámara plays the loveable and wise Antonio incredibly well. He seems born for the role and thus becomes a completely real and believable character that the audience can truly empathise with. Colomer and de Molina also show their skill throughout the film. Their characters’ journeys of growth are made all the more charming by their natural charisma, especially de Molina’s character. It’s really not surprising that she took away the Best New Actress gong at the Goya awards.
The sunny coasts of Spain are a beautiful location in which to film. There’s just something about that golden brown glow that makes this movie seem really special. Colour plays an important part in the cinematography of Living is Easy with Eyes Closed. There is a slight Wes Anderson flavour to a number of shots, though they lack Anderson’s obsessive symmetry. The whole film is shot gorgeously, making everything seem almost dream-like and idyllic. The rustic buildings and vehicles portrayed in the film only add to the charm. It really makes you want to go and visit!
Underneath the dreamy veneer however, is a series of very dark subjects. Through a few subtle scenes we get a picture of the lives and troubles of Spain and its people in the mid 20th century. To see Antonio ‘rescue’ the two runaways and help them flourish, all while completing his quest really warms the heart. It’s good to just watch a genuinely nice story once in a while, and Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is definitely a nice story.
A few production problems here and there don’t stop your enjoyment of the film as a whole. At one point a crewmember is quite obviously visible in a reflection, and a bit of camera work is out of focus, but overall there is very little to complain about.
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is a cheery, colourful, funny flick, and a strong opener for the Spanish Film Festival, which runs until the 21st.
Reviewed by James Rudd
Rating out of 10: 8