Close My Eyes (1991) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)


Tuna's notes


This is a British film about a love triangle, as scripted by playwright Stephan Poliakoff. It has an unusual twist in that two of the triangle are brother and sister. Their parents had divorced, and they were raised separately. In the past he had mostly ignored her while taking high profile architectural jobs all over Europe. When he returns to London and looks for a more socially conscious job, she has married a wealthy man. For some reason, even though she claims to be very happy, she seduces her brother. He becomes addicted to sex with her. While she sees nothing wrong with incest and doesn't even consider it cheating, having her brother in love with her clearly crosses a line and she breaks off the relationship, but not before her husband finds out. So what does the husband decide to do? Nothing.

Reviewers either find it a fascinating look at incest done perfectly, as only the British can do, or an allegory of Thatcher's England. Possibly it doesn't translate well into American, which could be the reason it doesn't seem to have had a US release, and why I was unable to figure out what was worthwhile about it.  Clearly, incest is supposed to be an important element, else it would have been a normal triangle romantic comedy, but I couldn't detect any message about the incest, pro or con. In fact, the film didn't seem to have any opinions about anything, including the motivations of its characters. I never understood what turned her to adultery with her brother, why he suddenly fell madly in lust with a sister he never had a lot of use for, why he became addicted to sex with her, or why the husband choose to forget it.

 

DVD INFO

  • No features
  • the widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced

 

NUDITY REPORT

Clive Owen, Saskia Reeves, and Helen FitzGerald show all possible body parts.


Scoop's notes


I agree completely with Tuna's points.

I guess the film is supposed to excel as a character study, but that's a difficult position to support when the audience is kept in the dark about the characters' motivations. To add to Tuna's list above, the script also fails to explain why the following occurred:

1) The brother suddenly decided to change suddenly from from his career as a corporate heavy hitter into a more socially conscious type. He says he has done so, but we see no reason for it.

2) The brother's boss hired him to work in the socially conscious job, at a small fraction of his usual salary. He had a bad interview. He was outrageously overqualified. The two men seemed to hate one another. Then we saw him working!

3) In another scene the brother and sister, lying in a country lane, are almost run over by a truck. The truck driver never tries to swerve or slow down to avoid them. He just honks the horn and barrels forward, as if he were driving a train and there was nothing else he could do. What tha ...?

The script also makes all the symbols and allegories extremely obvious, so obvious that the characters more or less explain them in dialogue:

Two men sit on a train together, talking while deploring the shoddy construction along the route, and the conversation goes something like this:

The brother's boss: "I say, it's all sort of a metaphor for the failings of the Thatcher administration, isn't it, old chap?"

The brother:  "Ah, yes, old man, as well as the failings of my own life, and your case of AIDS. In all cases a price is paid for a lack of restraint, don't you know?"

The film does have its strengths. In addition to the performing positives Tuna mentioned, it also has an evocative musical score and some superlative cinematography, and the Rickman character is quite sympathetic (uncharacteristically for Rickman), but neither those elements nor the great actors are enough to compensate for the questionable character motivations and the other weaknesses of the lifeless, too-talky script.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Alan Rickman received three "actor of the year" awards which were given for this film and others.

 

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

 

Based on this description, Tuna says, "This is clearly a C based on critical and public response, but I am damned if I can figure out why, except for great performances from Clive Owen as the brother, Saskia Reeves as the sister, and Alan Rickman as her husband." Scoop adds, "I guess Tuna has the right score pegged at C, but you must understand that it belongs to a 'tragically doomed romance' genre, and you should avoid it unless you have a taste for those."

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