Pilar (Laia Marull, Princesas) has had enough of Antonio's ill-temper (Luis Tosar, The Weakness of the Bolshevik). She quickly packs her bags and leaves with her son. At her sister's house Pilar collapses in a sea of tears.
Shattered by Pilar's move Antonio begs her to come home. He promises to change, control his violent temper, and become a new man. Pilar decides to give Antonio another chance even though she realizes he will never change. Soon, Antonio's violent outbursts return.
I saw Te Doy Mis Ojos a.k.a Take My Eyes (2003) immediately after it was released overseas. There was much noise in the Spanish press about it (and deservedly so as the film won seven Goya Awards, including Best Film) and for months I had the disc pre-ordered. When it finally arrived the story had a devastating effect on me. As a man I felt dirty!!
Take My Eyes deconstructs a horrific relationship where a disturbingly violent and sick man abuses a woman with a strange heart. Strange because the more I saw from Take My Eyes the more difficulty I had understanding why Pilar would want to stay with Antonio. There is something profoundly wrong with the desire of a woman to endure a man whose mind resembles that of a criminal.
Despite of its disturbing subject matter Take My Eyes remains a quiet film, one that keeps away from gigantic moral messages. This is quite interesting to say the least as what takes place on the screen could have easily been transformed into a soap opera of paramount proportions! Instead the audience is given the opportunity to observe without being told what the moral of the story is.
There aren't any genre clichés here either. From the moment Pilar moves away from Antonio Take My Eyes becomes a film of unpopular decisions. I know that many would have a difficult time justifying Pilar's "commitmet", just as I do, yet I think that what truly separates this film from everything else I have seen is precisely her thought-process.
Antonio's destructive temper is unleashed and the effect he has on Pilar's decisions is terrifying.
Take My Eyes left an indelible impression on me. After I finished watching it I felt as if I had gone through a massive grinder where all of my emotions were squashed without mercy. You really have to see the extent to which Pilar and Antonio go to have their "relationship" survive. If there ever was a film that shows how vulnerable the two sexes can be (the male assuming his role, the female assuming her role) then Take My Eye is it.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's Take My Eyes gets the typical New Yorker treatment: a quickly-put together PAL port with plenty of the mandatory "ghosting". The quality of the print is very good (there is no damage to report) but detail is lacking substantially and there is a strange fickering which I noticed during a few scenes. Contrast is quite good but I do not think that it truly represents what this film should look like. Why? Because of the improper transfer some of the natural "softness" becomes a muddy mess. I also tried to run a quick comparison with my Spanish disc and what I was able to spot instantaneously is that the color-scheme on the R1 disc uses a bit more red. Aside from that I don't think that there is much else for us to be unhappy with! Unfortunately, once again what could have been a steady presentation will most likely annoy just about anyone who has an advanced home set-up.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a standard Spanish DD 2.0 track and optional English subtitles the film sounds good. I would not say excellent even though this is mostly a dialog-driven feature as more advanced track(s) is/are available (check the Spanish disc) so New Yorker could have done better. The actors' speech is easy to follow and I did not detect any disturbing hissing(s) or drop-out(s).
Aside from the theatrical trailer what you will find on this disc is a short featurette titled "A Love That Kills" courtesy of the Canadian Film Board. This piece hardly provides the much needed look at the story or even more importantly the reasoning behind the enormous success Take My Eyes had with the Spanish critics and fans. What it does is it discusses partner abuse and what leads to it. There is more that New Yorker could have done!
Easily one of the best Spanish films from the last five years Take My Eyes gets a budget US release with the typical for New Yorker mediocre transfer. There isn't much here that I could praise in terms of technical presentation and for what its worth I only see this disc serving those stranded with their R1 players. I suppose the only good news is that after all Iciar Bollain's film made it to the US. I am uncertain however how strong its appeal would be amongst the more tech-savvy. What a shame, this film deserved better!