Among all the random films I'd catch late at night on SBS, there was one that eluded me. The Spanish romance (and possible comedy) Blue Eyelids. It was a catchy title, and the plot sounded alright. And I do like the Spanish. So I was keen to check it out. Unfortunately I never saw it on tv again. In recent weeks I was determined to find the film, with English subtitles, and finally I was successful! So how does the movie stack up, after 10 years of waiting (Bugger me, has it been that long?)?...
Marina is a lonely young woman, just barely scraping by, when suddenly she wins the first prize in a work competition-An all expenses paid holiday and cruise, open for two. With no-one to bring, she settles upon a stranger, Victor. An old schoolmate, he is keen to reconnect, and surprised when she suddenly starts showing an interest. But can trying to artificially create a romance really help either of them?...
Blue Eyelids (Párpados Azules) is a Spanish (as it turns out, Mexican) romantic-drama film, emphasis on the drama. It gets off to a fairly decent start, and promises to be one of your typical 'Real life is gloomy' film festival fare. I didn't mind the dour beginning, since I figured it was just setting the scene. Naturally things are gonna be glum at first, otherwise there'd be no reason to get excited for the sunny cruise and holiday!
After a proverb from an otherwise superfluous character, the film sets the stage by introducing heroine Marina to us. A beleaguered worker, winning a luxurious seaside holiday does nothing to lift her spirits. Even though the trip can easily be changed for one, she insists on finding someone, anyone. She soon meets Victor, who proves to be quite pushy, insisting he knows her and desperate for a date. Marina declines, for all of a day. Suddenly it's her turn to be clingy and desperate, to the point where even Victor is having second thoughts!
This is where we begin to realise what the film's going to be. Long scenes of characters sitting, staring into nothing, and repeating themselves over and over. It gets boring quickly, but what makes the film unbearable is its characters. Holy crap, they are pathetic like you wouldn't believe!
Marina is a raincloud of a protagonist, and never really has a big moment where she steps up (unless you count her actions at the end, not that they really matter). She was apparently fairly popular in high school, but fell by the wayside, and is now cripplingly lonely. She remembers so few of the names Victor mentions that I seriously began to question if she had Alzheimer's!
Victor fares better. He's a bit of a chump, and is like a dog chasing a car. If he actually caught it (i.e. if a woman actually said Yes to a date), he has no idea what to do next. He has a little self-respect, but not a lot, and he settles for a loveless relationship too by the end.
There's one awkward scene where Marina calls Victor's workplace, and practically mobilises the whole building just to find one random dude in the post office. It's a miracle she even got through, though he is so fired after that!
Worse is a gross masturbation scene (although props to the dude for using his imagination, I guess!) although it is immediately preceded by a sexy bottomless senorita in the kitchen, and followed by a much more welcome female masturbation sequence from Marina! (Hey, don't judge me!).
There's one scene where they head to the movie theatre. We can actually see this film's poster on the wall. This can be cute but felt a little self indulgent for the title to be plastered where we can't miss it. And if you were wondering, the two are seeing a black and white experimental arthouse film. Jesus can't they watch something fun?
It's later on when they have their first big date, and it's pretty bad. The leads make a concerted effort to not enjoy themselves. I bet if they smiled their faces would crack. Even when they're about to knock boots, they take their clothes off like a pet has just died! There's a complete lack of any music, let alone sexy Barry White. They don't tun on a light, they don't even smile!
The film's whole dilemma is flawed. How many passengers on The Love Boat went with a plus one? That's right, they were alone and found love on the boat! Blue Eyelids seems predicated on Marina being unable to go on her own, even though it's clear she can, no problems.
Their picnic scene is fairly decent, but even then they're unspooling picnic blanket or tearing leaves, like they're crazy. It's almost an hour in where something actually happens, and we finally get an interesting exchange. Victor finally asks why Marina's suddenly so into him out of nowhere, and she admits the truth.
The supporting cast is pretty minimal. There's pretty much just Marina's sister, who gets one scene early on. Marina is searching for a travel partner, and her sis, having some relationship difficulties, insists that Marina give up the holiday to them. The audacity! Naturally Marina declines (as if she even could agree if she wanted! "I can't help noticing you're not who we gave this holiday to."), and her sister immediately accuses her of being envious. The bitch is chummy when she thinks she can get a trip out of her, but the moment Marina doesn't want to be cheated out of her own holiday, she's envious! Riiight.
Even the rich businesswoman, with her legion of servants and palatial villa, is miserable and lonely. Christ, and here I thought cartel movies give Mexico a bad name! This does far worse, suggesting that life itself is untenably depressing for everyone. Also, the story that makes up the moral crux of the film turns out to be nonsense, which feels unnecessary and makes that whole character pointless.
And now for my biggest complaint with Blue Eyelids, and it's a doozy. For years I thought this movie was about a lonely woman going on a cruise to a sunny Spanish island. That's what all the plot descriptions say. I figured the first 10-20 minutes would set up her day-to-day life, then we'd be off. But as more and more time passed, it seemed the cruise wouldn't start till halfway through. Annoying, but workable. It was at the hour mark when I realised something that pissed me off! The cruise was never happening! The film's big selling point, and a great location for self discovery, and it never bloody happens. Marina does finally go, offscreen, 10 minutes before the end.
With no big shift, it feels like the movie is building up for nothing. And yes, the time it could have spent on cuising is wasted. Even in the last 13 minutes we're still treated to extended shots of the leads lying in bed, or sitting in couches. You know, it would have been really nice to see a holiday right about now!
The direction here is all fairly decent, with some nicely framed scenes. There are some moments where the action is so still I genuinely wondered if I'd paused the film by mistake. The film has a great final shot, though overextends a little, and the film ends with a dull and unnecessary addition.
The music is ok. A bit drab and lowkey. There was an alright melancholy tune that plays over the ending credits. Also present is the Dave Berry track Strange Effect, which gets a few playthroughs.
Blue Eyelids isn't a badly made film per se, but I found it to be almost totally worthless. It has no real point I could see, and watching it made me as miserable as the characters. It's a shame the film I waited so long to see is as unimpressive as it is, but oh well. At least I won't moan about it as much as the leads!...