Inspired by actual events in 1966, this buoyant and funny road movie about an English-language teacher determined to meet John Lennon won all the major Spanish film awards this year.
Scooping Spain’s Goya Awards this year (Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, New Actress and Original Score), Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed is a funny and touching tale of a road trip powered by heartfelt Beatlemania. Antonio (played brilliantly by Javier Cámara), is a schoolteacher in a small Spanish town. It’s 1966. Franco is in power. By the rigid standards of the day the dishevelled, unmarried Antonio is a wild and crazy guy, using the lyrics of ‘Help!’ to teach English to his students. When Antonio learns that John Lennon is in Spain filming Richard Lester’s How I Won the War, he sets out to meet his hero. En route he picks up – or temporarily adopts – two runaways: Juanjo, a 16-year-old boy who is fleeing his Franco-loving father, and Belén, 20 years old, single and pregnant, reluctantly heading home to her mother. The story is based on the true story of a schoolteacher who couldn’t make out all the lyrics on Revolver and travelled to Almería to ask Lennon to write them down. This lovely imagining of his quest has an affecting backbeat: in this sun-baked land of enforced social conformity, pop euphoria offers a tantalising taste of freedom.
“Beatles fans may instantly recognize some of the back story behind David Trueba’s film… The film’s title also happens to be the opening line of John Lennon’s song, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, which he wrote in 1966 while in southern Spain (a land of strawberry fields) filming Richard Lester’s anti-war movie.” — Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter