Where it reads home, read hell.
Icíar Bollaín’s Take My Eyes (Te doy mis ojos) is a poignant film about an abusive relationship, and the profound effect it has on families and everyone else involved. The film presents remarkably powerful performances by Laia Marull as Pilar, the abused housewife, and by Luis Tosar as Antonio, Pilar’s abusive husband.
Pilar (Marull) has an intense fear of her husband Antonio (Tosar). In the middle of the night, she decides to vacate her apartment with what little belongings she could pack along with her son Juan (Nicolás Fernández Luna). The safest place for her to go is her sister Ana’s (Candela Peña) home. While taking residence with Ana, Pilar begins to find herself–to seek friends at a new job near the local church. While Pilar enjoyed her new found work and freedom, Antonio was never far behind. He made sure to watch her from a distance and leave gifts for her at work–a reminder of her (in his view) “obligation”.
The sheer terror expressed on Pilar’s face was frighteningly realistic. Almost immediately you feel the need to empathize with Pilar and her difficult circumstances. You may even feel a little betrayed when she gives in and engages with Antonio once more, hoping to revitalize their marriage. There is a continuous shift in emotions as the plot progresses. Antonio’s anger is a result of a lifetime of belittlement from his family–specifically from his brother and father. While it is no excuse for his behavior, it is an opportunity to see the apparent source of his anger.
Aurora (Rosa Maria Sardà), Pilar’s mother, was in denial of the abusive relationship her daughter is in. She and Ana, Pilar’s sister, are at odds with the truth; one in support of Pilar’s independence, the other believing she needed to reconcile with Antonio despite his actions. It is also easy to see the source for Pilar’s indecisiveness. This conflict adds to the film’s dynamics rather than have both characters stand in as filler material.
The grueling depiction of an abusive relationship is expertly reflected in the acting performances. Whenever Antonio is nearby, a haunting shadow precedes him. This intensified Antonio’s (Tosar) onscreen appearance and was the focal point in many of the scenes he appeared in–in the same instance, Pilar’s (Marull) appearance and shadow would take on a limp and protective appearance, allowing us to sense the potential intimidation in every scene. These fine details are what make this film intently engaging. Each relationship and interaction influenced the other positively or negatively.
Bollain’s Take My Eyes is a beautifully exhausting film. It utilizes every raw emotion that succeeds where Antonio’s anger is challenged by Pilar’s independence.
A must see film.