One winter night, Pilar runs away from home. With her, she takes only a few belongings and her son, Juan. Antonio soon sets out to look for her. He says Pilar is his sunshine, and what's more, "She gave him her eyes"...
Pilar runs away in the middle of the night from her house, located in a peripheral and residential neighborhood of Toledo; She carries her eight-year-old son with her. She seeks refuge at her sister's house, an art restorer who leads an independent life with her Scottish partner, both of whom reside in the old and historical part of Toledo. Pilar is one more victim of gender violence, who tries to rebuild her life and begins to work as a cashier for tourist. Through her new job she begins to relate to other women. Antonio, her husband, undertakes his search and recovery, promises to change and seeks help from a psychologist. Pilar gives her husband another chance, with the opposition of her sister, who is unable to understand her attitude. Despite Antonio's efforts to follow the advice of therapy, his violent personality and insecurities end up publicly undressing and humiliating his wife on a balcony.Written by
He Moved Through Fair
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Inishgtful look on spousal abuse
I've already seen this film twice and the subsequent viewing has not diminished much director Iciar Bollain's powerful treatment of domestic violence. In fact, I was actually reluctant to see it again because its potent portrayal of spousal abuse was too disturbing.
There are two things notable about this film that make it stand out from other films on the same subject. One is that it features almost no violence. In fact, there is only one full-blown case of abuse portrayed, and it is less about physical abuse than it is humiliation and emotional abuse.
Another is the nuanced portrayal of the abusive husband. For this, credit must go to actor Luis Tosar, who portrays Antonio. Although the film does its best to give a more balanced portrayal by showing that Antonio does go to therapy and makes some attempt to change his ways, it is Tosar's performance that brings out his human side.
It would have been easy for Tosar to have demonized Antonio, particularly since the actor already a scary appearance, what with his bushy eyebrows and deep-set eyes. But Tosar chooses to take the high road in his performance, focusing on Antonio's deep-seated insecurity and inferiority complex, which are the roots of his violence towards his wife.
His most notable scene is the last one in the film when his wife finally leaves him. As she and her friends go around the apartment packing up her things, the expression on his face is not one of anger but of incomprehension.
But equal credit should be given to Laia Marull, who portrays the wife, Pilar. Because of her performance, the filmmakers literally do not have to show much violence. The literally palpable fear she shows when Antonio is about to go into once of his rages makes that unnecessary.
The film also shows the sexual bond between Pilar and Antonio in order to explain why she continues to return to him despite his abusive behavior, through a frank sex scene that would be possible only in Europe, since American movie makers seem averse to that kind of frankness.
Te doy mis ojos is difficult to watch at times, because of the intensity of its emotional violence. But it is ultimately rewarding for the insights it gives on spousal abuse and the relationship between abusive husband and abused wife.
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