Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (David Trueba, 2013)
Who wouldn’t want to drive to Almeria and chat with John Lennon? Get me a time machine and I’m there. In Living is Easy with Eyes Closed, teacher Antonio San Román (Javier Cámara) uses John Lennon’s lyrics to teach English to his students. One weekend he drives his cute little Fiat to Almeria in an attempt to find Lennon who is shooting a film on location. Antonio picks up a couple of stragglers along the way – first Belén (Natalia de Molina), a young pregnant woman, and then Juanjo (Francesc Colomer), a schoolkid who is sick of his father telling him to cut his Beatles-esque hair.
The most outstanding thing about this award-winning Spanish film is the overarching beauty of it. It is 1960s Spain painted in exquisite colours, framed so perfectly. Never before have I wanted to revisit the past so bad. Who cares if it was in the aftermath of a civil war? It looked simply breathtaking and they had Spanish bread! (Although, I guess they still have that now too.) And that car – I’m not a car person but it was adorable, even if it was a bomb. I almost felt a huge wave of nostalgia wash over me, except I wasn’t even around back then. I suppose we all want to go back to a time where we have never ventured, right? The clothes, the cars, the cheap hotels that are somehow so perfect, the dinky bar by the sea. DID I MENTION THE CARS? Even the petrol station looked gorgeous.
Living is Easy isn’t full of momentous plot developments, but it travels along at a steady pace. The three travellers all have their quirks, and quickly form a special bond. We are privy to the bare minimum of their respective backgrounds, which is just enough to satisfy. I did wonder how old Juanjo was meant to be, especially in one scene which was a little what-the-bloody-hell-this-doesn’t-seem-appropriate. He didn’t even have chest hair!
Natalia de Molina is simply a joy, and stole every scene she was in. I wasn’t so sold on Francesc Colomer who wore a confused and dull expression for the duration of the film. It is Javier Cámara, however, who is the true heart and soul of the film. Though Antonio could have easily bordered on creepy – picking up two young people and stalking a pop star – he remained endearing throughout due to his joyous outlook.
Contrary to expectations, there is scarce Beatles music on the soundtrack, though Strawberry Fields Forever is included. Antonio wonders about the meaning of the lyrics to many of The Beatles’ songs – one can only assume he didn’t realise they were jazzed out of their minds when they came up with most of them. The Beatles link does serve this Spanish film well in terms of international reception. And though it is set almost fifty years ago, Living is Easy with Eyes Closed could easily work as a tourism advertisement for Spain. It is simply stunning. For anyone wanting to bask in the nostalgic glow of the sixties summer, this one shouldn’t disappoint.