Open Your Eyes review – thanks for the memories never forget

August 26, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Netflix, TV Reviews
3

Summary

Open Your Eyes has enough mystery and style to see an audience through to the end, even if they’re likely to be a bit disappointed when they get there.

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3

Summary

Open Your Eyes has enough mystery and style to see an audience through to the end, even if they’re likely to be a bit disappointed when they get there.

This review of Open Your Eyes is spoiler-free.


There’s an intriguing premise propping up Netflix’s Polish original series Open Your Eyes. It’s about a girl (Maria Wawreniuk) who is introduced as No-Name and eventually comes to be called Julia, who wakes up one morning in a stark, mysterious clinic not knowing who she is, how she got there, or why a recorded voice keeps reiterating all the things she’s supposed to know about herself. Her parents died in a fire, apparently, which would explain the burn on her arm. She’s 17. These are the scant details she’s privy to, and even then, she’s not sure about any of them.

None of the clinic’s other residents seem clued up either, about her or themselves. The place seems like a halfway house for amnesiac orphans, where various experimental techniques ring alarm bells for the audience. Dr. Zofia Morulska (Marta Nieradkiewicz) seems to be in charge but isn’t forthcoming with information. There are lots of pills to be taken, lots of therapy sessions to endure, and lots of repressed talents to cultivate, since, at least according to another patient, Iza (Klaudia Koscista), that can help with recall.

Oh, and there’s a crazed patient, Magda (Sara Celler Jezierska), running around the clinic’s grounds and being roughly restrained by the bruisers who seem less like orderlies and more like security guards. Another escapee, Adam (Ignacy Liss), has recently returned, and slots right into the “love interest” role. You’ll recognize all the signs.

No more plot information, since Open Your Eyes is one of those shows built on a bedrock of mysteries, and the joy of the six episodes is uncovering them one by one as Julia interrogates her own memories and explores the secrets of the clinic. It’s easy enough to keep an audience invested when so much information is being withheld, and the show’s blend of genres – it’s a teen drama, a mystery, sometimes a horror, and occasionally a surreal, arty fantasia – gives it a feel quite unlike most other shows, even the ones it deliberately evokes through its plot beats and characters.

An untrustworthy memory is an overly familiar narrative device, but the clinic is so obviously suspicious that it’s hard to buy into the idea that Julia is just imagining everything. You know something’s up. That lack of ambiguity might be frustrating for some, and even across only six episodes, it’s a slow, patient show that doesn’t seem in much of a hurry to get anywhere. Sometimes, it overestimates how interesting its characters are, and this becomes more noticeable than is ideal. But once the plot gets going, there’s enough mystery to carry an audience through to what is ultimately quite an open and not particularly satisfying ending.

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