Beautiful Cesar (Eduardo Noriega) meets gorgeous Sofia (Penelope Cruz) and pulchritude attracts pulchritude in Alejandro Amenabar’s spooky thriller. Then Cesar’s crazily jealous girlfriend (Najwa Nimri) collects her beau in her car, drives fast, and crashes. She dies; he’s hideously disfigured. Or does she? And is he? Between love and madness lies a googly obsession with appearances, a la The Man Without a Face, and a fascination with reality tampering that predates The Matrix: Cesar is locked in a psychiatric prison for a killing he can’t remember (did he do it?), wearing an expressionless mask even though his own visage has been repaired. Or has it?
These rounds of psychological about-face hint at a philosophical consideration of physical beauty that Amenabar never deeply explores in Open Your Eyes. Along the way, the film becomes a sci-fi tract about computers and cryogenics. Yet the audacious, 27-year-old writer-director creates some haunting images of dream-state existence. The filmmaker was no doubt tickled to know — or was he? — that, drawn to the Hollywood possibilities for this romantic mirror gazer, Tom Cruise has bought the remake rights. B-