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Friday, March 20, 2015

"Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed": An Easy-Going Road Movie From the Birthplace of "Strawberry Fields Forever"

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 12:12 PM

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“Strawberry Fields Forever” is the Beatles’ masterpiece, and the time and place in which John Lennon wrote it provide the setting of David Trueba’s pleasant Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed. It’s 1966 in Almería, Spain, where schoolteacher Antonio (Javier Cámara) instructs his students in English via Lennon’s “Help!”

Learning that the man himself is coming to Almería to shoot a film, Antonio pilgrimages to the seaside to meet his idol, picking up young hitchhikers Juanjo (Fransec Colomer) and Belen (Natalia de Molina, a sort of Andalusian Arquette) along the way. Both are running away from familial shames: The pregnant Belen has been exiled by her parents to give birth someplace the neighbors won’t see, and Juanjo’s father is hostile toward him for having a fashionable moptop. (It’s easy to forget that the Beatles’ hair was scandalously long when they first hit, though even in this enlightened age, not having the proper hairstyle can prevent an otherwise qualified person from getting a job.)

Except for one jarringly explicit scene, Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed is an easy-going road movie that never loses its charm. Sure, the closest thing to actual Beatles music is professional Lennon impersonator Neil Harrison’s spot-on acoustic cover of the original “Strawberry Fields Forever” demo, but that’s nothing to get hung about. Sherilyn Connelly

Not rated. Opens Friday, March 20 at the Roxie Theater.
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Sherilyn Connelly

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