Blue Eyelids



Boy-meets-girl is the oldest story in the cinema, and yet this gem of a film from Mexico shows that it can always be made to live again. Ernesto Contreras's debut feature finds its own kind of heightened, dreamy realism, a kind that skirts the frontier of reverie and hallucination in one direction, and that of gloomy disillusion in another; but it is always rivetingly down to earth on the most down-to-earth of subjects: love, sex, loneliness and the dating game. The tone is seductively elusive: mysterious and serio-comic and yet with a robust kind of frankness about what is at stake for each party on beginning a relationship. I found myself thinking of the famous remark in the opening chapter of George Eliot's Middlemarch, about how a pre-matrimonial acquaintance is so slight as to resemble a cobweb that can be pinched into a "pilulous smallness".

Cecilia Suárez gives a tremendous performance as Marina, who works at a garment factory making uniforms for maids, nurses, air stewards, etc; owned by Lulita (Ana Ofelia Murguía), a somewhat autocratic old lady with a penchant for tiny caged birds. Contreras brings these creatures into metaphorical alignment with timid Marina, emphatically enough to let us suspect, for a moment, that Marina is a dream the old woman is having about her younger self. Marina wins a prize in an office competition rather grandly sponsored by Lulita: a luxury beach holiday for two. But she has no one to go with, and it at this moment that she is accosted in a cafe by Victor, played by Enrique Arreola, who claims to be an old school friend. For the life of her, Marina cannot remember Victor at all - and yet he seems pleasant and personable, and Marina's prize has brought to a crisis the question of her own loneliness. Might Victor be a candidate for her holiday? Tentatively, they begin going out.

Blue Eyelids is great at showing the pure awkwardness of the first date. Happy and excited, Marina and Victor go dancing at a nightclub, but there is a mix-up over their table and some drinks they ordered, and the atmosphere suddenly goes sour and even desolate, like a mysterious chemical reaction. On such tiny things turns the mood of a fledgling romance: it is so delicate and vulnerable, and yet it is precisely this volatility and insubstantiality that makes it liable to alchemise into something blissful. Victor and Marina are two people who know next to nothing about each other, and perhaps not much more about themselves, and they are on the verge of a great risk. What a humane treat this lovely little film is: a pinsharp cine-poem of romance.


accost - zaczepiać, zagadnąć

alignment - zgoda, przymierze

desolate - samotny, niepocieszony; zrujnowany

down-to-earth - przyziemny; praktyczny

elusive - nieuchwytny

fledgling - żółtodziób; nieopierzony ptaszek; początkujący

gem - klejnot

insubstantiality - niestabilność, niestałość

penchant - zamiłowanie, upodobanie

pilulous - nieznaczący, maleńki

pinsharp - bardzo ostry

reverie - marzenia, zaduma

rivetingly - pasjonująco

robust - mocny, krzepki

seductively - zwodniczo, uwodzicielsko

skirt - omijać, okrążać

tentatively - doraźnie; tymczasowo

volatility - lotność; niestabilność

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