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Living is Easy With Your Eyes Closed - Film Review

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by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
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Winner of 6 GOYAS including BEST FILM & BEST DIRECTOR
Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed - Film Review
Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed - Opening Night Australian Premiere


The opening night film for the Spanish Film Festival 2014 is the Goya-award-winning film Living is Easy With Eyes Closed. At the recent 28th Goya Awards Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed, won awards for Best Film and Director, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score. Javier Camara won Best Lead Actor Award, and Natalia de Molina won Best New Actress Award.

Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed - Film Review


The film's title Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed comes from The Beatles' song Strawberry Fields Forever, which John Lennon wrote in 1966 while in Almeria, Spain, when acting in the anti-war movie How I Won the War.

Although Lennon only had a minor role in this war comedy, his presence in his first non-music film drew major attention from the world press and Beatle fans, and followed the bands' successful sell-out US tour. Lennon's image on posters was utilised to promote the film. Further media attention was generated with reports that Lennon was unhappy with the band and was interested in pursuing an acting career.

Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed - Film Review
How I Won the War: Dir. Richard Lester, 1966.


This light, warm hearted road movie, directed by David Trueba, is based on the true story about Antonio, San Antonio, (Javier Camara), a Spanish teacher of English, who gets his students to recite Beatle song lyrics as a means of learning English. At home, Antonio listens to Radio Luxembourg and writes down the song lyrics to Beatle songs. However, some lyrics with their psychedelic references, from the album, Revolver, allude him, and he finds them difficult to transcribe. An early humorous scene shows some of his students reciting lines from the song, Help.

When Antonio learns John Lennon is in Almeria, with the film crew, he sets off by car with the sole objective of meeting Lennon and seeking his help with corrections to the song lyrics in his notebook. On his journey, the friendly and playful Antonio, picks up two runaways, Belen (Natalia de Molina) a 20-year-old pregnant girl who is hesitant about going home to her parents, and Juan Jo (Francesca Colomer), is running away from his over-bearing father after refusing to have his Beatles' hairstyle, cut.

At Almeria, the three meet a bar proprietor and Bruno, his disabled son, and the local bully, who takes delight in mocking Juan Jo's long hair. The themes in this engaging coming-of-age feel-good story offer humour, a touch of romance, sincerity, kindness and perseverance; off-set by the cruelty of the local bully and the harsh physical punishment of the school principal; both reflecting the lingering affects of Franco's lengthy brutal dictatorship. The film doesn't dwell on its political message, when Antonio tells Belen and Juan Jo, "Too many people live in fear in Spain."

Outstanding performances from the entire cast in this charming, fanciful story about a meeting with John Lennon, at a time when the Beatles were considered to be able to inspire and provide new hope and possibilities.

I enjoyed the cinematography, especially the filming in locations in rural Spain, made famous and clearly recognizable in Clint Eastwood westerns and films such as Lawrence of Arabia.

At a time when many of us would seemingly hang-on to whatever was happening with the Beatles, and what they said was considered important enough to be granted world-wide media attention, some may expect a deeper story to unfold. What is presented is this delightful and sincere telling of this whimsical adventure of a school teacher approaching someone as world famous and inaccessible as John Lennon, to gain a more informed understanding of his song lyrics is one that certainly has appeal. Some viewers may feel the telling of this fanciful story offers little new as a film; while for others, the hook will be, does Antonio manage to meet Lennon, if he does, what happens during their encounter?

I have avoided commenting in detail on how the film unfolds so as not to spoil the viewing. However, what is commonly known is the next Beatles album had the song lyrics printed on the jacket. And the song, Strawberry Fields Forever, was inspired and written by Lennon during his stay in the villa in Santa Isabel. The film title, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed is a line from the song, Strawberry Fields Forever.

Participating Palace Cinemas around Australia:

Spanish Film Festival 2014

Sydney: 29 April to 18 May

Melbourne: 30 April to 18 May

Brisbane: 1 May to 14 May

Canberra: 1 May to 14 May

Adelaide: 6 May - 21 May

Perth: 6 May to 21 May

Byron Bay: 8 May to 14 May
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Why? See thirty exceptional contemporary Spanish-language films.
When: 29 April to 21 May 2014
Where: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth & Byron Bay
Cost: Check with participating cinemas.
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