Eye Two Times Mouth
Cine CANÍBAL, 2023
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Eye Two Times Mouth is an unappealing title for a short film about an early 30-something woman who aspires to become an opera singer. Despite its namesake, Lila Aviles's new short film manages to be quite compelling. Set in Mexico, Luz Suarez, played by Akemi Endo, works at an art gallery, seemingly as a security guard and helping in other areas when needed. A professional opera soprano in real life, Luz, whose name means light, is often depicted alone when she is at work – even when there are people around. She quietly sings during idle periods and at times loses herself practicing operatic dance.
The film is shot with dark cinematography, making it difficult at times to appreciate what is transpiring between the characters on the screen. A poignant moment, though, occurs in soft light when Luz spends time with her voice teacher Lucian, played by professional opera tenor Alan Pingarrón.
Like the actor, Lucian is blind. Luz articulates her curiosity about how he visualizes color, and he beautifully explains how he interprets color in the context of music dynamics. People with visual disabilities are rarely engaged by colleagues and acquaintances about how they “see” the world and manage their way around it. As Rosemary Mahoney explains in her New York Times article on “Why We Fear the Blind,” people who are blind are “perceived as a people apart.” Indeed, many people are afraid to engage visually impaired persons at all, let alone ask what may be construed as direct or perhaps seemingly offensive questions. In this moment, the film allows the audience to live vicariously through Luz as she bravely asks her friend, teacher, and mentor about his ways of seeing the world when he lacks the ability to see with his eyes.
Luz and Lucian’s relatively prolonged discussion on color provides an interesting contrast with the dark cinematography. Avilés’s use of tints and shades for the film also suits its quietness, as there is little dialog, and the focal points are the usually quiet, classical genre segments of the fine arts.
The title, Eye Two Times Mouth, relates to facial symmetry - that the mouth is twice the size of one eye. This notion of balance is at the center of the film’s theme. Our understanding about what it means to live in darkness is elucidated through Luz and Lucian’s conversation, as well as Luz’s inability to be seen at her job, to being seen as someone with immense operatic talent.