Following Amadi, a musician from Lagos who travels to São Paulo to search for his missing older brother, Shine Your Eyes captures beautiful imagery but fails to capture the emotion from it’s protagonist.
The narrative is somewhat straight forward, Amadi discovers his brother has been lying to those back home. Instead he has been g oing by the name of Charlie, rewritten his past and erased his brother from the story of his life.
The core of the story is Amadi, in going to find his brother he instead discovers his brothers life and has to decide whether to take it for his own, or continue to live in his brother’s shadow. Unfortunately more examination of the relationship between the pair is needed. Other than the fact he has always felt less than his brother, you learn very little about Amadi, and the brotherly relationship is shown in a handful of repeated flashbacks. We get little explanation of what has happened to Charlie and Amadi seems far too comfortable taking his life and his girlfriend with little hesitation.
Some viewers may be able to take something from the symbolism throughout the film or find comfort and ideas within the many theories that surround the characters. Personally, I found the plot far too slow with little tension or suspense.
What should be praised however are strong and believable performances from OC Ukeje as Aamdi and Emilia played by Indira Nascimento. Despite speaking different languages, both in the film and real life, they capture that odd spark of romance that happens without any logic to its existence.
Director Matias Mariani has traditionally worked in documentary film and this can be seen through the framing of the film, but only adds to the piece, creating a realistic texture to the São Paulo Amadi finds himself in.
Disappointing from a narrative standpoint, there is still plenty of beauty to be found in Shine Your Eyes and I’m keen to see future work from Mariani.
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