Lyric in­tent

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Jen­nifer Levin For The New Mex­i­can

If Her­cules and aren’t your thing, try this scenic drive through the coun­try­side to Almería, Spain, with an un­likely trio of trav­el­ing com­pan­ions. Liv­ing Is Easy With Eyes Closed, writ­ten and di­rected by David Trueba and based on a true story, is a bit­ter­sweet al­ter­na­tive to the typ­i­cal sum­mer block­busters. An­to­nio (played by Javier Cá­mara, who won a Goya Award for his per­for­mance) is an English and Latin teacher on a week­end mis­sion to meet John Len­non on the set of the 1966 film How I Won the War. An­to­nio wants Len­non to fill in the gaps in a note­book of lyrics he has tran­scribed from lis­ten­ing to Bea­tles songs and that he uses to teach his stu­dents English. We see An­to­nio in­struct­ing them on pro­nun­ci­a­tion as well as on the mean­ings of the songs. (He be­lieves “Help!” is about the pres­sures of fame and about how we all just need to cry for help some­times.)

Belén (Natalia de Molina, who won a Goya Award and a Span­ish Cinema Writ­ers Cir­cle Award for her per­for­mance) is preg­nant and un­wed, liv­ing un­hap­pily in a home for such young women. And Juanjo (Francesc Colomer) is 16 and the old­est of six chil­dren; he chafes enough un­der his fa­ther’s au­thor­i­tar­ian hand that he runs away from home. An­to­nio picks up Belén and Juanjo as hitch­hik­ers. A die-hard teacher with a large heart, he’s both happy to have their com­pany and con­cerned for their wel­fare. The film toys with us a bit at first, al­low­ing us to see, through the eyes of his pas­sen­gers, An­to­nio’s po­ten­tial for men­ace, but he’s truly a good per­son. The movie is filled with gen­uinely good peo­ple (and a few vil­lains), right down to Len­non, whom we never see but whose pres­ence feels very real at key mo­ments.

An­to­nio’s zest for life — even in the face of ad­mit­ted loneliness — and his love of mu­sic, po­etry, and lan­guage are con­trasted against the back­drop of Franco’s Spain, where Na­tion­al­ist sol­diers dot the roads. It’s ob­vi­ous for much of the movie that An­to­nio will fall for the beau­ti­ful Belén, though this isn’t ul­ti­mately a love story. Belén suf­fers from the weak­est char­ac­ter devel­op­ment of the trio, with the film re­ly­ing more on her beauty than on her per­son­al­ity, but de Molina im­bues her with enough sub­text and mo­ti­va­tion to make up for this short­com­ing.

Af­ter Len­non’s time in Spain, all Bea­tles al­bums came with printed lyrics. Whether or not this was be­cause of his meet­ing with the school­teacher doesn’t mat­ter, be­cause it’s part of the folk­lore now — part of Len­non’s legacy.

ILiv­ing Is Easy With Eyes Closed, road movie, not rated, in Span­ish with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 3 chiles

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