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|Index||29 reviews in total|
This film is an expanded and improved rewrite of Poliakoff's early play
Hitting Town. I have always found Poliakoff's plays filmic; this reworking
on film is more interesting than the play, although the starkness of the
incest in Hitting Town was probably more shocking, and the 1970's UK
audience was probably more susceptible to shock.
Three great performances in this film - Saskia Reeves, Clive Owens and Alan Rickman.
Poliakoff has a great knack of mixing the profound, the profane and the mundane. One telling scene in Richard's flat has Richard and Natalie agonising over their tryst, then making love, while in the background a rain-affected test match (cricket) fails to happen and then starts to happen again. Unforgettable symbolism - Bergman would have used it if only the Swedes played cricket.
This film is well worth seeing.
The subject of incest, between an adult man and his sister, will immediately put off many potential movie watchers, but for those not turned away easily, Close My Eyes succeeds as a sociological study, and should be commended for its hypnotic depiction of very difficult subject matter.
How many times have we seen, or imagined, an inappropriate flirtation from a woman, at a time when circumstances have left her emotionally distraught? That this flirtation of Natalie (Saskia Reeves) should find its way to her own younger brother Richard (Clive Owen) immediately jump starts the story into somewhat previously uncharted water.
Perhaps incest is a drug, not unlike and somewhere between alcohol and heroin, and certainly the intensity of the feelings, the desire, as portrayed between the two translates to us as such. It is this undeniable intensity that is the strength, perhaps the honesty of the film.
Alan Rickman, is brilliant, as usual, in a smallish role as Natalie's husband.
I'm surprised this movie isn't rated higher - I can't think of anyone who's seen it who hasn't liked it. Women who see it are all mesmerised by Alan Rickman, who rather steals the show. For many women this was their first taste of Rickman, and it was love at first sight! He _is_ good, and he's cast in an interesting role (Saskia Reeves cheats on him when she has an affair with her brother, played by Clive Owen, who was probably more famous than Rickman at the time because he'd recently starred in a very successful TV drama series). The incest plot is treated very well - the script, acting and direction are excellent. The whole situation is set up so as not to shock, but to make us think, and I think the film succeeds.
This is the kind of film that British film-makers do very
An ambitious brother and sister have grown up distant from each other. The
tension they feel when they meet comes to a head when Natalie initiates
Richard into an incestuous affair. She maintains control throughout and he
is tortured. The whole story is set against a background of urban London
and sumptuous Richmond middle-class wealth. It is very well acted and has
an interesting sub plot of Richard's boss who is dying of AIDS.
It deals with the difficulty of finding permanant relationships in the late 1980s/early 1990s, but it makes the point with subtlety. It looks mainstream, but falls into the art cinema category, probably because it was intended for television broadcasting. It deals with a very controversial subject with taste, but it is explicit enough for you to feel the attraction between Natalie and Richard with conviction. The lead characters in it are attractive too with great support from Alan Rickman as Natalie's dominating husband. It is as English as anything by Merchant/Ivory, but has much more edge.
The film is really haunting and keeps you spellbound. While the film
appears to portray sex scenes for nudity's sake, that's not really what
is going on.
Okay, okay, this is no Pulitzer Prize winner and Alan Rickman, Clive Owen, and Saskia Reeves can act better than they do in this movie. Butt, I think they each brought so much into the picture that other, less talented, actors would have failed to make this film work as well as it did.
The dynamic between Natalie, her brother Richard, and her husband Sinclair is very strange. If you let yourself go and immerse yourself into the story, then you can enjoy it.
The story is about very taboo subject matter, at the time when AIDS/HIV finally came into the public consciousness. But, I do think the screenplay by Stephen Poliakoff is very well written and the film strongly succeeds because he also directed it.
I can compare the story to that of Jane Campion's "The Piano". It is risqué, bizarre, and seemingly shallow. It is also thoroughly compelling. The characters are otherworldly and mysterious, yet very commonplace. You can almost identify with them and by the end of the movie you will find yourself wanting to know more. It is as if you have been looking into a snow globe at a fantasy world come to life, just on the other side of the looking glass. Everything is madness for this trio....
"Close My Eyes" is a journey into the "What if ? ". The most difficult question is, "Why ? ". Only Natalie and Richard can answer that question, or can they? If you are a fan of Clive Owen, Alan Rickman, and/or Saskia Reeves, check it out.
Well, I liked it so much I opted to buy it. (A VERY tough movie to find might I add) But I digress...When the announcer gave a brief description of this movie on T.V, I admit I was curious (in a Ripley's Believe it or not sort of way). I initially watched it for the shock value. But by the end credits I thoroughly "wowed". The acting was convincing to say the least, especially when dealing with such a sensitive subject as incest. The beautiful landscape this movie is set upon is great eye candy (so is Saskia Reeves). This movie gets high marks in my book, however I do have a gripe. Early on in the movie the plot is rushed, switching time periods too often. However, once the time shifts settle the movie begins to shine. The human drama played out represents one possible outcome in a field which most people know little about. Is this an accurate portrayal? Who knows?.....Who wants to know? One thing is certain it makes for an interesting and entertaining movie.
Writer and director Poliakoff has had a variable but often remarkable career
in television mostly, with landmarks 'Bloody Kids' (directed admirably by
Stephen Frears) and 'Caught On A Train'. His work as a director as well as a
writer has been arguably less successful with the recent 'The Tribe' being
laughed off the screen despite the sell of a naked Anna Friel, and the
critically mixed reviews of his serial set in a photographic museum. His
plots tend to have hard to swallow fancies to them, and this is no
exception. Life tough and fractured in the modern financial jungle? Roll
about on the floor with your sister, after all you haven't seen her for
years. Then blow this up in some way to include aids and pretentiously tie
the outcome to the fate of humanity, not to mention your actual middle
classes. There are many puzzling aspects to this film, not least the
overbearing photography and wallowing in architectural richness. There's got
to be a reason, it just escapes me.
Poliakoff's script is efficient and always interesting, despite the cringe factor, but it's the performances that make this film so strange and memorable. Clive Owen has cut a curious path in British telly, sharing with Paul McGann a sort of 'new man' image, especially in 'Chancer' where he was seen snuggling up cooeing to his baby son stark naked in bed. "Aaaaaah," went several thousand female hearts. Owen is an interesting, even brilliant actor. He doesn't act with his voice, which is often kept low key and naturalistic, but through his face. He's one of those gifted actors who can portray deep emotion and anguish with a mere inflection. He is partnered with the equally able Saskia Reeves, and together they burn up the screen, especially in the blistering climax. It's at moments like these you really admire actors and the way they make the magic happen.
I have just watched this movie on TV and it is may be the fourth time I
have seen it. It is one of very few movies I want to see more than once
and I find something new in it every single time.
Alan Rickman is very suited to this role and Clive Owen is also good but for me the star of the show is in fact Saskia Reeves who is fantastically believable, more so than Clive Owen in many ways. Most noticeable of all are the dramatic changes in her appearance in what are supposed to be the various different years in the movie showing us seemingly the very fast changing nature of her personality from an uncomfortable young office worker to a much more confident and well presented married lady in the prime of life.
The contrast of embryonic docklands with the rich scenery of the sunny Thames is fantastic. Knowing both Thames and the development of docklands at this time well probably made this film seem even more relevant to me plus the taboo subject is one I have always had a vague interest in. The way in which they suffer tremendous guilt as soon as they go too far is also very believable. Most of us stop short of crossing the line they cross here but if Ms Reeves had been my sister perhaps temptation would have presented itself more strongly.
The opening scenes of Stephen Poliakoff's film, 'Close My Eyes', are
truly mesmerising. We see a floodlit bowling green, incongruously (but,
given that one of the subplots of the movie turns out to concern urban
planning law, not irrelevantly) positioned amongst tower blocks;
meanwhile a young woman (Natalie, played by Saskia Reeves) is smoking a
cigarette on a balcony, possibly in one of those same blocks. As the
credits fade, the camera homes in on a young man in a hurry (Richard,
played by Clive Owen), passing by the bowlers; it turns out that the
woman is his estranged sister, and he's late. She, on the other hand,
is upset, and looks to him for comfort; and in the middle of the night,
they share a moment of affection that goes a little bit beyond what
siblings ought to do. The unfolding of their lives over the next few
years is then summarised through a depiction of their subsequent (non-)
interactions: he is every bit the strident, ambitious, fornicating
yuppie; while she feels lost and uncertain, with a brother-shaped hole
in her life. But after years abroad, Richard comes home, rather
surprisingly to take a lowly paid public sector job. And then Natalie,
whom he has almost forgotten, gets in touch and invites him to meet her
new husband, Sinclair (played wonderfully by Alan Rickman, in probably
his finest role). Sinclair is a millionaire futurologist, a man both
kindly, but also child-like in his fundamental inability to empathise.
And Natalie, who has gained a new confidence, starts to come on to
Richard with a very definite intent. The skill with which the film
effectively tells half its story in just a handful of minutes, with
brilliantly selected visuals replacing the need for expository
dialogue, is breathtaking; one can hardly take one's eyes off the
But for all Poliakoff's brilliantly striking imagery, the film manifests some serious defects. To start with, the subsequent plotting doesn't quite work. The central idea appears to be that ambitious Richard falls in love with his sister, but she is only game-playing; he then falls apart. But the film keeps its distance from its characters, sometimes their motivation (beyond raw sexual passion) is unclear, and some of their behaviour seems forced to fit the dictates of plot. One could also argue that, in dealing with incest, the film is slightly dishonest. It wants to be seen to explore a taboo, but creates a scenario in which two consenting, independent adults find themselves in a very unusual situation: to put it another way, the reason incest is taboo is because it is almost invariably exploitative, whereas this relationship is not (at least, not in the way that generally characterises the phenomenon).
Another aspect of this movie is Poliakoff's decision to set his movie in a landscape more symbolic than real. We witness the progression of an almost supernaturally idyllic affair, made even more perfect by being set in contrast to the spectre of A.I.D.S. Sexual intercourse takes place between beautiful bodies disrobing from beautiful clothing in beautiful places. Alan Rickman plays the sort of eccentric genius whom we instinctively feel is exactly what a millionaire should be like, though in reality, one suspects, most are none of the sort. Even the supposedly wretched council offices where Richard takes up his new job have more the feel of a trendy design consultancy than of grim municipal poverty. More generally, Poliakoff's films invariably set up contrasts between worlds defined by qualities such as power, sex, or tradition; but never seem to recognise that all these qualities, far from being opposites, are just different attributes that identify some as the "haves" of our society, as opposed to the "have-nots". There are a few images of the homeless, of the truly dispossessed, in this film, but they only exist as images; while the real drama plays out within a gilded circle. In some respects, it's this romantic other-worldliness that makes the film so physically striking. But social realism it ain't.
Does this make it a bad film? On the contrary, one could say it's a great film. But the roots of Poliakoff's later disaster, 'The Tribe', are clearly on show here, alongside evidence of his rare gift for combining intelligence and beauty, in this fascinatingly flawed film.
How can you feel sympathetic to a brother and sister who fall in love with
one another? Ensure that the viewer knows that they grew up separated
one another, and that at least one of them is emotionally frustrated after
series of failed relationships. Throw in an older, maybe boring husband
Alan Rickman I can't even imagine!!), mix in some gorgeous surroundings
it's not quite so astonishing. The comedic touches are great....the
brother's fright at being invited on a picnic by Rickman ..."You think
going to kill me?" says volumns about his guilt.
Betty Davis criticized one movie as merely a 'travelogue', which I don't
mind at all: the beautiful upper reaches of the Thames, the country
the old church where the lovers try to break apart.....wonderful!! I
it over and over just for the scenery. The brother's bare buns aren't
as attractive as Alan Rickman's, but the sex scene in an empty office with
some nameless young woman is quite hilarious.
The acting is excellent, as is the dialogue. The "I will, I won't" of the female gets a little wearing. but I suppose it's necessary to show how repulsive incest was initially to her. For those of you who like quirky movies and English environments, this is a must!!
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