Review: ‘With Closed Eyes’

"With Closed Eyes," a serenely inscrutable, Chilean-shot meditation on childhood reverie, marks first work in nearly a decade from Azerbaijan-born, Vienna-based film essayist Mansur Madavi. Closed or open, few eyes are likely, as admirably rugged item reps tough sledding for all but the most intrepid fest auds and indiscriminate tube buyers.

“With Closed Eyes,” a serenely inscrutable, Chilean-shot meditation on childhood reverie, marks first work in nearly a decade from Azerbaijan-born, Vienna-based film essayist Mansur Madavi. Closed or open, few eyes are likely, as admirably rugged item reps tough sledding for all but the most intrepid fest auds and indiscriminate tube buyers.

In a dusty, windswept, seemingly deserted settlement on a vast plain between mountain ranges, young Lorenzo follows a daily routine that includes being late for school, engaging in adolescent hijinx with his friends amidst the night’s ubiquitous howling dogs and observing such events as a slowly collapsing building, the rantings of a madman and the sinister removal of Lorenzo’s teacher by government agents. Madavi’s determinedly fragmented and often silent approach feels like equal parts magic realism and ethnography, giving images a surface tension and veracity ultimately betrayed by lethargic pace. Tech credits are trim, with evidence of dubbing and out-of-synch sound on print caught.

With Closed Eyes

Austria

Production

A Madavi Films production. (International sales: Austrian Film Commission, Vienna.) Produced by Mansur Madavi. Executive producer, Madavi. Directed, written, edited by Mansur Madavi.

Crew

Camera (color), Madavi; music, Orlando F. Orellana. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 10, 2000. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Lorenzo Montalban, Felix Alcallaga, Ruben Fernandez, Hans Michael, Diaz Espinosa.
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