By Daniel Barnes
*Opens today at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco and the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael.
Set in 1966 while John Lennon was filming How I Won the War on the southern coast of Spain, writer-director David Trueba’s pleasantly uneventful Living is Easy with Eyes Closed plays like a laid-back, Andalusian-inflected version of an indie-quirk road trip movie. The set-up, and that mouthful of a quasi-inspirational title, comes straight out of the As Good as It Gets playbook – a middle-aged neurotic, a single woman with a troubled home life, and a bullied younger man take to the open road in search of meaning and acceptance – only Trueba is more interested in admiring the countryside than shoving life lessons down your throat. Javier Camára plays Antonio, a Beatlemaniac bachelor schoolteacher who drives to Almeria with the intention of meeting and interviewing Lennon, even if it means getting slightly stalker-ish in the process. Along the way, he picks up a pregnant woman played by Natalia de Molina and a teenage runaway played by Francesc Colomer. The only thing connecting this motley crew of Franco-era Spaniards is their sudden and compulsive need to escape the casual violence that permeates their daily lives, if only for a long weekend. Draped in a lulling acoustic guitar score by Pat Metheny, the experience of Living is Easy with Eyes Closed is akin to sitting alone in the backseat on a long, quiet car ride through gorgeous country – lovely, soothing, meditative, and a little bit dull.