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Close My Eyes (DVD)

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Genre: Drama / Director: Stephen Poliakoff / Actors: Alan Rickman, Clive Owen ... / DVD released 14 June, 2004 at Cinema Club / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      01.12.2009 20:03
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      Not a good place to start if you have never seen Poliakoff's work

      *This is a film only review*

      Close My Eyes is a 1991 film, written and directed by the now highly celebrated screenwriter Stephen Poliakoff.

      It tells the story of a womanising brother Richard, played by Clive Owen and sister Natalie, played by Saskia Reeves, who after spending their childhood largely apart, grow closer as they reach adulthood and begin a dangerous all-consuming affair. Against this backdrop, is Natalie's domineering but ultimately devoted husband, played by Alan Rickman. Also, a subplot involving a secondary character dying of AIDS is shoehorned in, mirroring a lot of social context that was in the years preceeding the film.

      Despite the high credentials of the writer and cast involved, this is unfortunately not a very interesting film. The performances are largely fine, but Owen in an early film role overacts somewhat. And I have to say there is never any real chemistry between the two leads, unsettling or otherwise. Natalie is largely emotionally detached from the situation and it is Richard who instigates most of the romantic and sexual action, so it is difficult to see why she would risk her marriage and status for this relationship.

      Rickman's character is presented as a bit of a pretentious oaf, but actually ends up being the person that you feel the most sympathy for in the whole film. As alluded to before, the AIDS subplot is not particularly well handled and there are shades of Thatcherism principles in some of the dialogue but this is thinly sketched also.

      There is a long prologue to the story which serves only to tell us that Richard is unreliable as a brother. It does not really match what follows, and is utterly irrelevant when a substantial and more convincing back story would have rewarded the viewer more and given the whole film a bit more depth.

      However, the film is gorgeously shot, splitting its time between London's colourful urban sprawl and the lush, almost utopic Kent countryside - not least in an indulgent and not particularly relevant scene where Rickman and Owen's characters go on an unscheduled boat ride down the canals.

      It seems to be a film which is trying desperately to say something, but is ultimately hollow and completely without passion despite a number of love scenes between the siblings. Ultimately, this is quite a disappointment given the depth of talent involved but not awful, although it certainly will not convert any anti-Poliakoff's to explore the gems that he managed to follow this up with.

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