Living is Easy with Eyes Closed resembles an old Polaroid of the Andalusian seaside, yellowed by the summer sun and age alike. Despite its title – cribbed from “Strawberry Fields Forever” –it cuts through any nostalgic haze to present a clear-eyed portrait of 1966 Spain, its beauty and its injustice.
The story told is an uneventful, unambitious road trip centring on a teacher (Javier Cámara) obsessed with John Lennon (whose filming of How I Won the War in Almería operates as a MacGuffin of sorts) and two hitchhikers – mop-topped teen runaway Juanjo (Francesc Colomer) and pregnant Belén (Natalia de Molina). The specifics of the narrative are perhaps overly neat – with both Juanjo and Belén evincing hidden talents – but it suits the overarching optimism.
Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is an optimistic picture of a country extricating itself from an oppressive dictatorship and it’s most effective in that mode (with plenty of Beatles references for those so inclined). Its characters feel too archetypal – troubled teen, caring teacher, young pregnant woman – playing pieces used to evoke a mood of the time rather than people in of themselves. It’s not an unforgivable flaw, but it keeps it from more being more than pleasant.