Blue Eyelids

Pic is just classy enough to raise a flicker of interest at fests.

With:
With: Cecilia Suarez, Enrique Arreola, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Tiare Scanda, Luisa Huertas.

“Blue Eyelids” is blue, alright — so obsessively trained on its pair of lonely hearts and so concerned with sadness and life’s seeming impossibilities that it’s barely able to crack a smile. Even a stroke of good fortune seems to bring nothing but trouble for its solitary, morose though ever-alert central female character, who wins a company raffle for a trip she doesn’t want to take alone. A popular favorite at the Guadalajara fest, where it nabbed the Ibero-American prize, pic is just classy enough to perhaps raise a flicker of interest at global-minded fests, with fair local B.O. prospects on the horizon.

Marina (Cecilia Suarez), a humble and meek clerk at a uniform company in Mexico City, wins an employee raffle of a trip for two to a beach resort. At first, she wants to go solo, but then appears to have a change of heart, and starts pathetically phoning old school chums she hasn’t spoken to in years.

Carlos Contreras’ screenplay darts between Marina and another quiet urban dweller living alone, Victor (Enrique Arreola), who is destined to meet her. Though the film suggests these two sad sacks were made for each other, it then works much too hard (under Contreras’ brother Ernesto’s direction, straining to be sensitive) to find all sorts of causes to pull them apart.

It’s a kind of comedy, but neither of the Contrerases quite has the nerve to fully push these people into such business. What “Blue Eyelids” eventually becomes is a semidrama always on the verge of reaching for laughs, but never grasping them.

For instance, when the couple sets out on a date to a traditional dance club, they manage to not only lose their table, but also sour the whole evening so that dancing is the furthest thing from their minds. The scene’s intrinsic comedy, though, just sits there, waiting for someone or something to spring it into action.

Suarez’ own internalized seriousness would seem to be comedy’s enemy, but her perf goes a great distance toward humanizing this tale of unarticulated longing. Arreola, burdened with a role that requires him to react to whatever comes Victor’s way, struggles with the pic’s more nuanced passages. Neither thesp quite pulls off a denouement that wants to keep auds surprised, but feels too formulaic.

Lenser Tonatiuh Martinez and production designer Erika Avila fortunately ignore the title’s cue for a certain color, and ably support director Contreras’ scheme to suggest moods of isolation and yearning. Ray Davies’ hypnotic tune, “Strange Effect,” is a terrific track excessively repeated.

Blue Eyelids

Mexico

Production: A Foprocine/Imcine/Churubusco Azteca Studios/New Art Digital presentation of an Agencia SHA production. (International sales: Imcine, Mexico City.) Produced by Luis Albores, Erika Avila, Ernesto Contreras, Sandra Paredes. Directed by Ernesto Contreras. Screenplay, Carlos Contreras.

Crew: Camera (color), Tonatiuh Martinez; editor, Ernesto Contreras, Jose Manuel Cravioto; music, Inaki; production designer, Erika Avila; costume designer, Gabriela Fernandez; sound (Dolby Digital), Enrique Ojeda; sound designers, Enrique Greiner, Erick Dounce; casting, Isabel Cortazar, Andrea Abbiatti. Reviewed at Guadalajara Film Festival, March 26, 2007. (In Cannes Film Festival -- Critics' Week.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Cecilia Suarez, Enrique Arreola, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Tiare Scanda, Luisa Huertas.

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