It’s been a while since I’ve recommended something on Netflix Streaming so let’s fix that. I noticed the other day while throwing some titles into my queue that they’ve recently acquired the underrated, in my eyes, CLOSE YOUR EYES from 2002 (has it really been almost ten years?). This is a movie that really surprised me both in content and in the fact that it didn’t garner more attention. Scratch that, maybe I’m not so surprised that CLOSE YOUR EYES failed to make a significant mark. It’s one of those movies that is too gruesome for the serious crowd and too serious for the gruesome crowd and like many movies that refuse to court a specific audience, it failed to find a seat when the musical chairs music stopped. People tend to love or hate it and my theory is that’s because it sets up a very believable reality only to turn it on its head and not everybody can make the leap from the everyday to the fantastic mid-film. Personally I love to be taken off guard when a carefully constructed game board is flipped.
Policewoman Janet Losey (SHIRLEY HENDERSON) is so impressed with the abilities of her hypnotherapist Michael Strother (GORAN VISNJIC) that she solicits his help with a child who escaped the clutches of a deranged serial killer. The little girl (SOPHIE STUCKEY of the equally underrated THE DARK) was found with a strange tattoo and that is the only lead as the experience has left her mute. While his traumatized subject is hypnotized, Strother is able to enter her subconscious as if it were another world. Some of these alternate reality zones are a bit dated looking but it allows for some pretty cool ALTERED STATES/DREAMSCAPE type stuff to occur and I’m always into that. The first part of the film plays like a London based psychological detective story (think PRIME SUSPECT) but once the truth begins to emerge, we get some pretty heavy occult action (think BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN). I won’t say more about that latter development so that you can discover that twisted angle yourself but suffice to say CLOSE is not afraid to get crazy dark.
I have to applaud the performances and the chemistry between the film’s two leads. Easy to watch VISNJIC brings to mind GREGORY PECK in SPELLBOUND and HENDERSON is sorta like JENNIFER JASON LEIGH doing Clarice Starling with the help of a smoking habit and big SINEAD O’CONNOR doe-eyes. Their romance-free simpatico relationship is as refreshing as it is strangely endearing and it’s nice to see the novel gender reversal of HENDERSON being the aggressive cop and VISNJIC taking on the sensitive, put-upon psychic. If you dig mysteries, serial killer thrillers, ARGENTO-like obsessions with architecture or season four of TRUE BLOOD (big bad FIONA SHAW swipes a few scenes in CLOSE too!) you should give this a viewing. I’ve seen it a couple times now and besides a few wonky CGI effects and a stray random cliché or three, I think it’s a clever, bracing mind-screw that one could easily get lost in if they allow themselves to.
I’ll check this out because I suddenly have a BIG thing for Fiona Shaw. She’s one of those actors you barely notice when you see her in one role, but soon realize how terrific she is when you see her in another (she almost single-handedly gave the 2009 DORIAN GRAY a sense of period placement). It’s always great to discover a new charactor actor who’s so intruiging to watch.
Oh yeah! I just watched this and really enjoyed it… thanks so much for pointing it out!
I particularly enjoyed the first half of the movie and Shirley Henderson’s character. I found myself wanting a lot more of her in the second half though, when she seemed to step back out of center stage and things got a bit more… familiar.
Not a lot of surprises at the end for me but the journey there was very entertaining.
This is the first move that I ever noticed Shaw in and was surprised to see how much younger she actually was on True Blood. She’s great and very creepy in this!
Paddy Considine (In America) is great in this to. I wanted to mention him in the review but didn’t want to spoil too much…
Glad you like this too and agree on Henderson. Love her in this.
the ending caught me off guard as I thought they were going in a different direction but I get what you mean by “familiar”
In fact, although it didn’t mess up the movie for me I was taken aback by one giant cliche…
The old five churches on a map and behold….. it’s really a devil star thing!
I feel like I have seen that in way too many movies!
I think in a way I may have responded favorably to some of the less original aspects of the film because they reminded me of a seventies supernatural thriller and I dig those!
I did the thing with the fingers for days after watching this. It’s a nice subtle compulsion to pretend to have.