Close Your Eyes

After a three-decade hiatus, Spanish master Victor Erice returns to cinemas with an exquisite, unhurried mystery film where each moment is infused with memory and melancholy

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 08 Apr 2024
  • Close Your Eyes
Film title: Close Your Eyes
Director: Victor Erice
Starring: Manolo Solo, José Coronado, Ana Torrent, María León, Petra Martínez
Release date: 12 Apr
Certificate: 12A

More than three decades have passed since Victor Erice's The Quince Tree Sun, and unsurprisingly his first feature since that entrancing documentary from 1992 is a film concerned with lost time. The protagonist in Close Your Eyes is Miguel Garay (Solo), a film director who hasn’t stepped behind a camera in 20 years, not since being forced to abandon a feature when his leading man and closest friend, Julio (Coronado), mysteriously disappeared. When a television programme on Julio reopens the case, memories that Miguel had long left behind come flooding back.

Everything in Close Your Eyes stirs the memory. Miguel encounters numerous characters (including Ana Torrent, the child star of Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive) who recall their shared past, and throughout the film, physical objects act as totems, with a book, a postcard, a photograph or a chess piece triggering a Proustian rush. Above all these objects, however, a film print remains the greatest repository of our memories, and Close Your Eyes is driven by a sincere belief in cinema’s power to awaken something within us.

Erice takes his time – almost three hours – unravelling the mystery. This is unmistakably an old man’s film, but that’s not meant as a pejorative. It’s a film that is keenly aware of ageing and loss, a film suffused with quiet wisdom, and it gradually builds to a deeply moving climax. "Miracles haven't existed in cinema since Dreyer died," Miguel is told, but Victor Erice’s triumphant return to filmmaking certainly feels like one.

Released 12 Apr by New Wave Films; certificate 12A