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Review: If I Close My Eyes I’m Not Here

September 28, 2015

Film + EntertainmentReview | by Francesco Cerniglia


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If I Close My Eyes I’m Not Here (Se chiudo gli occhi non sono piú qui) is a melancholy film that looks at the concept of losing someone and trying to continue with everyday life. The story follows young teenager Kiko (Mark Manaloto) who lives with his mother (Hazel Morillo) and her new partner Ennio (Beppe Fiorello) who forces him to work at his construction site.

The only place where Kiko feels safe is an abandoned bus in a dump yard which he has built as a shrine to his deceased father. One day, Kiko’s life changes when an elderly man and friend of his father, Ettore (Giorgio Colangeli) becomes a mentor to him, though there’s obviously much more behind the man’s actions.

The film begins with a voice over narration accompanying shots of a boat that become more prominent as the camera gradually moves closer towards it. It is then revealed that the voice is in fact a man speaking to a young, Filipino boy about space and a piece of meteorite.

The independent production focuses on the realism in Italy and anyone with any knowledge of the Italian cinematic tradition will know that it is renowned for realistic portrayals of the Italian working class ever since the very early stages of cinema.

Filmmaker Vittorio Moroni indulges in many scenic shots, showing the landscape of the town Kiko lives in and the shots used reinforce the melancholy and isolation themes throughout the entire film with bleak and dreary buildings and empty spaces.

One particularly memorable shot features a blurred background with Kiko’s classmates and a ping-pong net in the foreground and a ping-pong ball flying over the net. The beautiful use of background and foreground comparisons will stay in your mind long after the film is over.

As well as the realism, the film takes on a deep, thought-provoking concept with many different ideas being surfaced about the universe and will make you pause and think about what has been said and the potential truth behind it and if that is not a good writing technique then I don’t know what is.

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By focusing on the aspect of realism, the film becomes a melancholy look at the life of someone who is struggling to come to terms with the death of his father and trying to support his family, as well as keeping up with school work. Kiko is forced to work at a construction site which takes over his life making him fail at school despite his potential to excel and it becomes clear through the shots of Kiko and the other construction workers that he is observant, quiet and intelligent.

After meeting Ettore and the two bonding over the relationship they each had with his father, Kiko seems to come out of his shell and we learn more about how he is feeling and his outlook on life and in particular the universe. Ettore inevitably becomes a father-figure and seems to be around when Kiko is feeling lost, alone or in trouble. Upon first viewing, there were shots that initially brought to mind the idea of a guardian angel as he just happens to appear when Kiko is in trouble.

Mark Manaloto’s portrayal of the alone and melancholy Kiko is particularly moving. For the majority of the film he rarely speaks and Manaloto shows his character’s emotions solely through facial expressions and reactions. Giorgio Colangeli’s performance of Ettore will make you sympathise and feel sorry for the old man but at the same time, you’ll be wondering just what he is trying to get out of Kiko.

Another technique that director Vittorio Moroni frequently uses is monologue-esque voice overs and a montage of images that becomes somewhat of a motive and this is reinforced through the use of the same tune that goes alongside it. Not all the images relate to the words being spoken in the monologue but nevertheless they start to become expected and it is an interesting touch which feels like a potential homage to the Soviet montage theory of Eisenstein.

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Like many independent productions, the ending is not a climatic, all guns blazing, tying up loose ends kind of finale but it is left up to the audience to decide what happens to the characters.

If I Close My Eyes I’m Not Here is a delicate tale that poignantly captures the true meaning of loss and the attempt to get through our day-to-day struggles and for that alone it’s worth checking out.

If I Close My Eyes I’m Not Here is now available in the UK on VOD exclusively on Fimdoo.com

Steven Brown