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Beginning as an edge-of-your-seat noir thriller, a terrified Pilar hastily flees in the middle of the night with her young son as if her life depends on it. Reaching her Sister Ana’s house, Pilar breaks down in turmoil. Banging on Ana’s front door is Pilar’s husband, Antonio who in a fit of rage screams for Pilar to return home. But Pilar holds tight. With Ana’s support, Pilar is determined to save herself from Antonio’s rage. Settling in with Ana, Pilar begins a new career, and finds a greater sense of self. Yet the very passionate Antonio is far from a one-dimensional brute, and the bond between Pilar and Antonio is deep- tangling together love, eroticism, and submissiveness. Their relationship has always been a potent mix of love and anger.
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Take My Eyes, a drama about a couple entangled in an abusive relationship, proves that Spanish Director Icíar Bollaín has studied the aggressor's mindset in order to portray the violent husband, Antonio (Luis Tosar) with a certain amount of sympathy. The film enlightens rather than enrages. Antonio, who beats his wife Pilar (Laia Marull), is a complex character overcome by his insecurity that Pilar will leave him. Take My Eyes opens on Pilar taking her son to live with her sister, safe from Antonio's uncontrolled anger. Antonio stalks Pilar, warning that he can't survive without her, then signs up for therapy. Conversely, Pilar is co-dependent, unable to see Antonio's cruelty because of her blind belief in the construct of marriage due to her mother's past, similar history with her deceased husband. Pilar's sister's wedding and Pilar's new job as a museum docent acquired in her effort to command independence exacerbates the couple's dilemma. Pilar returns to Antonio but a terrifying incident scares her permanently away from him. Throughout, one senses Pilar's impending danger, but the complexities of her and Antonio's arrangement, including her motherly role in their relationship, sheds light on domestic violence for those viewers who are baffled by it. Take My Eyes also explains how detrimentally far couples will go to stay together for their child. Well-acted and nicely written, Take My Eyes is a smart film about the horrors of abuse. The docudrama extra on this DVD, A Love That Kills, further delves into cruelty in a more educational setting, the counselor's office. --Trinie Dalton
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