Saturday 7 August 2010

Blue Eyelids (Parpados Azules) (2007)

There are suggestive, magical undercurrents to Blue Eyelids (Parpados Azules), Ernesto Contreras’s debut film. Dubbed an “anti-romantic comedy” by the director, this strange and engaging little movie charts the courtship between two individuals in Mexico City. The timid Marina (Cecilia Suarez) is a factory employee who wins a holiday for two in a competition at work. Lacking anyone to accompany her after a falling-out with her sister, Marina runs into Victor (Enrique Arreola), a former schoolmate. She invites him on the vacation but the film's focus is not the trip itself. Rather it's a series of dates that the pair go on in order to get to know each other better prior to the holiday.

Blue Eyelids is gentler in tone than much contemporary Mexican cinema; in some ways, it’s a movie that feels oddly out of time. I kept expecting the film to turn funnier or wilder than it actually does, but Contreras seems content simply to observe his two characters as they meet in a park, a bar and (in the film’s best sequence) a cinema. The result is an affecting, wry portrait of urban isolation and the challenges of connecting with others. Suarez and Arreola make an oddly appealing duo, and though the movie is rather underpopulated, its visual richness and well-judged soundtrack more than hold the attention. The film’s pace and framing may put you in mind of Aki Kaurismaki and Tsai Ming Liang's work at times, while its scenes of social awkwardness occasionally evoke early Mike Leigh. But the sensuous, dreamy ambience is all Contreras’s own.

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