Take My Eyes (Te doy mis ojos)

Director: Iciar Bollain

Spain| 2003. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 106 min.

Home is where the hurt is in Iciar Bollain’s ?ne third feature, Take My Eyes, which handles the subject of domestic violence with intelligence and compassion. The director has been threatening something special, and now she delivers with a subtle piece that traces the ups and (mostly) downs of a lower-middle-class Spanish couple. The ?lm, which is the product of extensive research, opens in almost thriller mood, as Pilar (Laia Marull) gathers her son from his bed and escapes to the house of her sister, Ana (Candela Peña). When Ana visits Pilar’s house to pick up some belongings, she ?nds hospital records that show her sister has been a victim of violence.
The source of that violence is Pilar’s husband, Antonio (Luis Tosar), ?rst seen yelling at her through a door and then promising, as he does repeatedly, that he can’t live without her. Pilar, now living with Ana, receives con?icting advice from her sister, who tells her to leave him, and from her mother, who tells Pilar to stand by her man. Neither option is psychologically available to the unhappy woman.
Marull, in her best performance to date, is outstanding as the nervous, submissive Pilar, starting out like a frightened rabbit but then edging her way toward strength and self-understanding. As Antonio, Tosar exploits his somewhat sinister features to the fullest and is a disturbing, jumpy presence, mitigated by his character’s genuine love for his wife and desire for self-improvement. Overall, this provocative piece bolsters the view that some of the most interesting work currently being done in Spain is by women directors.

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