C+ Road picture
- Written and directed by David Trueba
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is a very pleasant picture. For almost two hours, you get to hang out with three very likeable people who, in their travels together, meet other likeable (and some unlikeable) people. The scenery is lovely.
But the picture doesn’t get much beyond pleasant. Although the three leads are reasonably believable, and you can’t help rooting for them, the film never really explores the depths of their souls. There is nothing here to challenge your view of the human condition. Although set in a fascist country, the picture is primarily apolitical. There’s very little suspense, and the laughs are too few to call it a comedy.
I enjoyed the movie–most of the time. But I often found myself wishing that something dramatic would happen.
The setting: Spain, 1966. Young people all over the world are enthralled with a new sense of freedom, and are all in love with The Beatles. But this is Franco’s Spain, and that sense of freedom is somewhat curtailed.
Antonio (Javier Camara) seems too old to be a Beatles fan (few over 30 were in those days), but he’s a fanatical one. A middle school foreign language teacher, he uses Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics to teach English. Knowing that John Lennon is in Spain making a movie, he sets out to meet his hero in person. (The movie being made, by the way, is How I Won the War. The title is never mentioned here.)
The movie location is in a small, beachside town far from Antonio’s home, so he takes a long weekend to drive there. On the way, he picks up first one and then another teenage runaway. Belen (Natalia de Molina) has escaped from a strict and authoritarian home for pregnant and unmarried girls (she’s not yet showing). Juanjo (Francesc Colomer) ran away from his large family because his cop father insisted he cut his hair.
Of course the two kids are going to fall in love. The considerably naïve Juanjo takes a long time to figure out that this gorgeous creature is interested in him.
Antonio becomes something of a father figure for the teenagers, although he hardly seems more mature than them. Goodhearted and generous, and reasonably well-educated, he seems to know little about the real world. (The film’s title is more than just a Lennon lyric.) His attempts to contact the well-protected Lennon are ridiculous and juvenile. But they aren’t anywhere near as funny as they should have been.
The movie is sweet, upbeat, and touching. But that’s about it.