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Open Your Eyes
by Erik Sean McGiven on Apr 04, 2009
"Open Your Eyes" is a journey of self-discovery
for Julia, a young woman (Traci Dinwiddle) as she struggles and comes to terms
with her life and marriage after breast cancer.
This short film explores the complex relationship women have with their
bodies and what happens when a part of their femininity and sexuality is
suddenly taken away.
Life threw Julia a crew ball, one she never expected --
breast cancer. It all comes to a head
when Julia attends a friend's bridal shower and wanting desperately to escape
the clamor of other women, she hides out in the bathroom. It's a moment of reflection as she looks in
the mirror. Soon questions, appraisals,
and regrets surface in her mind and we sense that something is dreadfully
wrong. Suddenly a stranger intrudes on
her sanctuary and Julia finds herself locked in the bathroom with Kat (Suzy
Nakamura), the frank-talking sister of the bride-to-be.
The story is told in a manner that resembles the memories we
recall in our head. And the real crux of
the story unfolds in flashbacks as Julia remembers past events, the mammogram
exam, the day of the surgery, and the effects of chemotherapy. We see the real soul of this woman and these
memories truly express her lose her departure from being a woman. Yet it is the candor and humor of Kat that
help Julia gain the courage to confront her future and realize that she is
The film is an emotional journey allowing entry into the
mind and heart of a breast cancer survivor.
The story relies on compelling images, non-verbal actions to fully
relate a reluctant acceptance of one's fate.
It's a beautifully constructed tale that begins with misery and ends
with finding she's still a woman, loved and adored. It's not what you lose. It's what you find.
A lot of thought went into producing this film and the
creative qualities rival the best of big budget films. Traci Dinwiddle's ("The Notebook,"
"Mr. Brooks") portrayal of Julie is a stellar performance played with
subtle nuances that gradually pull us into her dilemma and feeling her
pain. It's a role where vulnerabilities
must be balanced against her fortitude and anger. This is done with the expertise of a real
pro. As Katherine, Suzy Nakamura
("West Wing," "Curb Your Enthusiasm") is the catalyst that
clarifies Julia's turmoil and helps her confront her future. Nakamura's candid performance lends the
perfect counterpoint to Julia's morbid outlook.
Eric Lange's "Kevin" nicely fills the role of the
understanding husband and yet tactfully conveys the frustrations of a
deteriorating marriage. Teresa Haung's
role as "Deborah," the bubbling naive bride-to-be, provides the
contrast to Julia's fading sexuality.
Their scene skillfully compares Julia's lose against Deborah's marital
Production values are first rate, especially choices of
locations, makeup, and photography.
Susan Cohen's writing and direction are fastidiously cohesive and bring
this story to the screen with a discerning delicate touch, a touch that uses
every aspect of solid filmmaking. Remaining production credits are superb and
it's easy to see why this film is and will be one that wins numerous awards.
CREDITS: "Open Your Eyes" stars Traci Dinwiddle,
Suzy Nakamura, Eric Lange and Teresa Huang.
Written and Directed by Susan Cohen; Director of Photography Stephanie
Martin; Casting by Monika Mikkelsen; Edited by Steven Ansell; Music by Wolfram
de Marco and Leslie Stevens; Produced by David Newsom, Amy Sommer and Alisa
Wiegers, Executive Producers Mark Goodstein, Erick Herring, and John
AFI's Directing Workshop for Women presents a 6 [ft] 1
Production. Running Time: 15 Minutes
April 14, 2021