If I Close My Eyes I’m Not Here: A powerful, melancholy film

If I Close My Eyes I’m Not Here is a melancholy film that looks at the concept of losing someone and trying to continue with everyday life.

The film follows the 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 at 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, Ettoro (Giorgio Colangeli) becomes a mentor to him. However, he soon reveals his true identity.

If I Close My Eyes I’m Not Here begins with a voice over narration with shots of a boat that become more prominent as the camera gradually moves closer towards it.

It is then revealed that the voice over is in fact a man speaking to a young, Filipino boy about space and a piece of meteorite

The camera then reveals a shot of the stars in the sky and numerous constellations and a new voice over narrator begins speaking about space.

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

The film is full of 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 aspects, 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.

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 the potential to excel and it becomes clear that through the shots of Kiko and the other construction workers that he is observant, quiet and intelligent.

After meeting Ettoro 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.

Throughout the film, the character of Ettoro 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.

Ettoro helps build Kiko’s confidence and helps him study and as the narrative progresses, Ettoro continually reveals parts of his life that cause the audience to expect a certain final, climatic revelation to occur and makes you question who he is and his relationship with Kiko’s father.

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 characters emotions solely through facial expressions and reactions.

Giorgio Colangeli’s performance of Ettoro gives an insightful look into someone who is attempting to make peace with the death of Kiko’s father.

Colangeli’s acting will make you sympathise and feel sorry for Ettoro but at the same time, you’ll be wondering just what he is trying to get out of Kiko. A trusting old man with a dark secret.

Another technique that director Vittorio Moroni frequently uses is monologue-esque voice overs and a montage of images.

The technique is used throughout the entirety of the film that it becomes a somewhat motive and this is reinforced through the use of the same tune to go 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 to add to the film and it can be seen to be a potential homage to the Soviet montage theory of Eisenstein.

Like many independent productions, the ending is not a climatic, all guns blazing, tying up loose ends but merely it just goes to black after a final shot of Kiko.

This is very common amongst independent films and it could possibly have been done in order to keep up the idea of making you think. 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 film that captures the true meaning of loss and the attempt to get through the day-to-day struggles.

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