Close Your Eyes: Spanish master Víctor Erice returns after a 31-year hiatus

The octogenarian auteur’s fourth feature is a languorous consideration of time, memory and cinema

Close Your Eyes
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Director: Víctor Erice
Cert: None
Genre: Drama
Starring: Manolo Solo, José Coronado, Ana Torrent, Petra Martínez, María León, Mario Pardo, Helena Miquel, Antonio Dechent, José María Pou, Soledad Villamil, Juan Margallo
Running Time: 2 hrs 49 mins

“Miracles haven’t existed in the movies since Dreyer died,” insists Max (Mario Pardo), a long-standing collaborator and friend to the hero of Close Your Eyes. And yet, here is a resurrection.

The Spanish auteur Víctor Erice established his reputation as one of the great directors of European cinema with just three feature-length projects: his masterpiece, The Spirit of the Beehive, in 1973; The South, in 1983; and his documentary The Quince Tree Sun, in 1992. Close Your Eyes, Erice’s fourth feature, premiered at Cannes film festival last May, after a gaping 31-year absence.

Much to the dismay of critics and fans, the film was controversially relegated to an inauspicious sidebar. The 83-year-old film-maker refused to attend and sent an open letter to the newspaper El País, decrying the selection process and a lack of transparency. Close Your Eyes, a languorous consideration of time, memory and cinema, was subsequently named the second best film of 2023 by Cahiers du Cinema, the French film magazine.

Utilising a matryoshka structure – and upcycling the director’s unfinished works – the film opens in postwar France, where a wealthy Spanish emigre dispatches a detective to find his long-lost daughter in Shanghai. She is the first of several missing persons and lost texts. The story is revealed to be a surviving fragment of a 1990 production abandoned when its lead actor, Julio (José Coronas), disappeared without a trace. Two decades later, spurred by a tabloid TV investigation, the director of this film within the film, and Erice substitute Miguel (Manolo Solo), renew the search.


Taking cues from the sleepy Almerian fishing community where Miguel lives, an unhurried mystery introduces jolly nuns, an estranged daughter and a charismatic dog. The script, by Erice and Michel Gaztambide, tarries for singsongs, dinners and poignant conversations about cinema and the self.

Close Your Eyes is on limited release from Friday, April 12th

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic