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Close My Eyes (film)

Close My Eyes is a 1991 film written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff and starring Alan Rickman, Clive Owen and Saskia Reeves as well as Lesley Sharp and Karl Johnson. Music was by Michael Gibbs and the film was produced for Beambright and FilmFour International by Therese Pickard. It had a limited theatrical release from 6 September 1991,[1] before being shown in Channel 4's Film on Four strand on 28 October 1993.[2]

Close My Eyes
US promotional poster for the film
Directed byStephen Poliakoff
Produced byTherese Pickard
Written byStephen Poliakoff
StarringAlan Rickman
Clive Owen
Saskia Reeves
Music byMichael Gibbs
CinematographyWitold Stok
Release date
  • 1991 (1991)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


In 1985, town planning student Richard Gillespie visits his older sister Natalie, whom he is not very close to since they grew up separately. Natalie has recently split with her boyfriend and is unhappy with her job. At Richard's insistence, they go for a late-night walk and Natalie seems to cheer up. Richard stays over, and on waking in the middle of the night, he finds Natalie still awake and still extremely depressed. Richard's attempts to lighten the mood are ended when Natalie pulls him into an unexpectedly passionate embrace, kissing him on the lips. She immediately apologises, making the excuse that she just wanted someone to hug. Richard seems stunned, but not disturbed.

Six years pass, during which Richard achieves success while Natalie's career stagnates. Richard, committed to the environment and sustainable town planning, interviews for a job with a magazine formed to put pressure on planners to consider the needs of local residents. Colin hires Richard to work with his deputy, Jessica. Meanwhile, Natalie applies for a job as secretary to a powerful and rich stock analyst named Sinclair Bryant; she does not get the job, but later marries Sinclair. Richard, who does not go to the wedding, finally visits Natalie at her palatial home and is surprised by her changed, more "posh" mannerisms. He is introduced to Sinclair and the two get along well, as they are both highly intelligent with similar interests and a similar outlook on life. Shortly after Richard's visit to her home, she visits Richard's apartment. They attempt to resist their attraction to one another, but eventually they succumb to their desires and have sex. Sinclair subsequently invites Richard to a social gathering, where Natalie and Richard agree to meet again to discuss their encounter. Natalie tells Sinclair that she is going away for the weekend, and she and Richard meet again. Richard and Natalie have sex, after which Natalie insists their affair must end. Upon her return, Sinclair informs her that he tried to call her at the hotel during the weekend, but was told she never checked in; Natalie asserts that she was there. He does not confront her about his suspicions that she is having an affair.

Meanwhile, Colin has developed AIDS and informs the office. After this revelation, Richard and Colin find it hard to interact with each other because they are both pretending nothing is wrong, despite Colin's increasingly worse condition. Colin accompanies Richard one last time to confront an unpleasant city planner with facts they intend to publish in their magazine. The two of them question the planner, and Colin eats half a sandwich, offering the other half to Richard (who takes a bite without issue). They then offer it to the city planner who is terrified even to touch it because of Colin's illness. Some time after, Richard learns that Colin has died.

Richard becomes obsessed with seeing Natalie. He visits her house, where he finds only Sinclair. Sinclair questions Richard on the subject of Natalie's affair. Sinclair does not suspect Richard, but believes Richard knows the identity of her lover. Some time later, after learning that Sinclair and Natalie plan to move to America, Richard has an emotional breakdown. He attempts to commit suicide with sleeping pills, but Natalie arrives unexpectedly at his apartment. She invites him to the going-away party, on the condition that he not attempt to renew their affair. He attends with Jessica, but abandons her to search for Natalie. He finds Natalie in a secluded area and, after a brief chase, tells her, "I want to kill you." The two fight in the middle of a road, with Richard accusing Natalie of using him. Then he pulls her to safety when they are both nearly run over by a delivery truck. Natalie apologises for using him, and tells him that she and Sinclair aren't leaving the country after all, but that they wanted to have the party anyway. The two return to the gathering disheveled; Sinclair appears, and staying calm, makes it clear that he knows what has happened, though he doesn't wish to hear the details, and that he forgives them.

At the end of the film, the three of them walk, together, into an autumn sunset by the river.



The film is largely a grand-scale re-working of Poliakoff's earlier stage play Hitting Town in that the main plot remains one of brother/sister incest, and the film re-uses some lines from that play in dialogue between the brother and sister characters. Beyond this, the film also covers the chaos (as the film sees it) that was the initial stages of the London Docklands development, the late 1980s recession and attitudes towards AIDS. A parallel thread running through the movie is the rapacious replacement of the classical by the modern, represented visually by old and new buildings.[3]


The film was shot mainly in London and, specifically, London Docklands with Sinclair and Natalie's house being in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.[citation needed] The grand party that is the stage for the film's climax was shot at Polesden Lacey in Bookham, Surrey.[citation needed] The final scenes along the river are at Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire.[citation needed]


The film won the Evening Standard film award for Best British Picture of 1992.[4]

Home mediaEdit

The film was originally released on VHS video by Artificial Eye and is available on DVD in the UK and the US on the Cinemaclub label. The film has an 18 certificate in the UK and an R Certificate in the US.


  1. ^ Plays: 3, Stephen Poliakoff, Methuen Drama, 1998, Introduction, pages 198.
  2. ^ The Kaleidoscope British Independent Television Drama Research Guide, Kaleidoscope Publishing, 2010, page 1857.
  3. ^ Plays: 3, Stephen Poliakoff, Methuen Drama, 1998, Introduction, pages xi-xii.
  4. ^ Plays: 3, Stephen Poliakoff, Methuen Drama, 1998, Introduction, page i.

External linksEdit