Otto in Emma's War (1987)
Many years after she made this film, Miranda
played Eowyn in Lord of the Rings. In this, her first
film at age 18 or 19, she briefly bared her butt in a
shower scene. Some of the other actresses in the scene
showed far more.
Close My Eyes
Somebody reminded me about this movie a few
days ago, so I decided to take another look at it.
Close My Eyes is about forbidden love. A brother and
sister (Clive Owen and Saskia Reeves) finally allow a
long-dormant, unspoken attraction to erupt into lust.
This explosive situation is exacerbated by the fact that
they wait until the sister is married to consummate
their lust, and the husband has caught her in some lies
about her absences. Before the consummation of the
incest, the brother and the husband (Alan Rickman) had
bonded over some common interests, and their friendship
had become close enough that the husband eventually
confided his suspicions to the brother, at first unaware
that he was talking to the man who had cuckolded him.
The husband finally puts the pieces together and
figures out what's going on, but instead of getting
angry, he just lets them know that he knows,
understands, and forgives them. At that point the incest
has run its course for the sister, but not for the
brother, who has turned the affair into a full-blown
obsession, so the redefined relationship among the three
of them is utterly uncomfortable for everyone. The film
ends with their awkwardness. They take a brisk autumn
walk together. The husband and wife walk together, not
quite in sync, while the brother trails behind them,
within earshot, but not really part of the conversation.
It's the kind of scene that can make audience members
shift uncomfortably in their chairs and look away in
I guess the film is supposed to excel as a character
study, but that's a difficult position to support when
the audience is kept totally in the dark about the
characters' motivations. There are characters, but no
The script fails to explain why the following occurred:
1) The sister claimed she was happy with her
husband just before diving into her brother's dick.
Perhaps she had some reasonable motivation, but the
audience is never let in on it.
2) The brother suddenly decided to change suddenly
from from his career as a corporate heavy hitter into
a more socially conscious type. He says he has done
so, but we see no reason for it.
3) The brother's boss hired him to work in the
socially conscious job, at a small fraction of his
usual salary. He had a bad interview. He was
outrageously overqualified. The two men seemed to hate
one another. Then we saw him working!
4) In another scene the brother and sister, lying in a
country lane, are almost run over by a truck. The
truck driver never tries to swerve or slow down to
avoid them. He just honks the horn and barrels
forward, as if he were driving a train and there was
nothing else he could do. What tha ...?
The script also makes all the symbols and allegories
extremely obvious, so obvious that the characters more
or less explain them in dialogue. For example, two men
sit on a train together, talking while deploring the
shoddy construction along the route, and the
conversation goes something like this:
The brother's boss: "I say, it's all sort of
a metaphor for the failings of the Thatcher
administration, isn't it, old chap?"
Close My Eyes doesn't try to hide the fact that it is
arthouse film which wanders far from the beaten track
with scenes you'd never see in a box office smash. In
addition to the awkward ending and the explicit
incestuous sex, we also listen to the husband and
brother discussing Proust, and watch as the brother and
his boss use the latter's AIDS to make slimy developers
uncomfortable. If it were an American movie, it would
include some variation of "gay cowboys eating pudding"
(Cartman's characterization of all American indie
movies), and I would label it "made for Sundance."
The brother: "Ah, yes, old man, as well as the
failings of my own incestuous life, and your case of
AIDS. In all cases a price is paid for a lack of
restraint, don't you know?"
But it's not just arthouse in general. It's 1991 British
arthouse. Man, 1991 was a long time ago. It may seem
fairly recent, but take into consideration that a
13-year-old boy who watched this when it came out is 40
now, and he has probably aged better than this film. The
film seems downright quaint, filled not just with the
usual old-time British quaintness, but with a complete
sense that the whole story belongs to a lost time and
place, possibly in another universe. It's filled with
references to how the modern developments of the
Thatcher era were destroying the traditional appeal of
London's classic architecture, and ... well ... I guess
I had forgotten how obsessed everyone was with AIDS at
The film does have plusses. Unlike typical arthouse
films, the production values are solid. The
cinematography is first-rate, the musical score is
evocative, and the melodrama is elevated by a tremendous
cast of seasoned professional actors, but none of those
elements are enough to compensate for the questionable
character motivations and the other weaknesses of the
lifeless script in which the characters blather on and
on about subjects unrelated to the main story, but tell
us nothing about what is inside of them.
Of course, there is plenty of nudity, Clive Owen's dick
makes a few appearances in the process of being offered
to Saskia Reeves and Helen Fitzgerald, who both show the