A Spanish movie, which came out in 2003. Its (official) English title is Take My Eyes. It was written and directed by Icíar Bollaín, and it has won seven Goya Awards (the Spanish Oscar), amongst others for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress.
Te Doy Mis Ojos tells the story of Pilar (Laia Marull), a young housewife in Toledo. When we first meet her, she is running away from home in the middle of the night, taking her son with her, to stay with her sister. We soon find out from her sister's reactions why she has run away: her husband Antonio beats her...
Pilar's sister Ana helps her find a job in a museum. Here Pilar makes new friends and also finds out that she loves paintings and the stories behind them. Meanwhile, Antonio (Luis Tosar) is trying his best to win her back, bringing her presents and promising her he will change. He even goes into therapy.
After a while, Pilar gives in to Antonio and goes back home. She keeps up her job though, and plans on following a course on art history so she can get a job as a museum guide. This gets her into trouble with Antonio who can't understand why she would want a job. Doesn't he earn enough? Isn't he enough for her? His therapy notwithstanding, he can't manage to keep his jealousy and anger in check and finally, in a fit of rage, does something that so humiliates Pilar that she decides to leave after all.
I was really impressed by this movie. In a way, it tells a very clichéd story. Husband beats wife, wife leaves, husband promises to better his life, wife comes back, husband beats her again. But the acting is so excellent, you can really feel what the characters are feeling. You feel Ana's frustration that her sister won't leave her husband, Pilar's hope that this time it will be okay and her fear when Antonio gets angry yet again. It made me realize how difficult it must be to leave someone you love, even if he hits you. To leave, Pilar has to fight against her love for the man she once knew, against her fear of not being able to make it on her own, against her mother's opinion who stayed with an abusive husband herself, and against her husband who wants to keep her from doing something she loves. And although the husband in this story is indubitably the bad guy, I found his story almost as sad as Pilar's. He has a huge inferiority complex and trouble expressing his feelings, and even though his therapist tells him everything he needs to know to do it right, in the end he messes up so bad that he loses what he most fears losing.
Most chilling to me was how Antonio, although he claims to love Pilar, doesn't seem to see her as a real person. He just çan't grasp that there are things she wants to do that are just for herself, not because she wants to shame him or find a better man, but just because they interest her. It seems to me this must be a big part of an abusive relationship: the lack of ability to see the other person as being separate from their relationship to you.
Te Doy Mis Ojos is definitely not a feel-good movie, but I'd recommend it to anyone.