by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Julianne Moore as DOCTOR’S WIFE
Mark Ruffalo as DOCTOR
Alice Braga as WOMAN WITH THE DARK GLASSES
Yusuke Iseya as FIRST BLIND MAN
Yosino Kimura as FIRST BLIND MAN’S WIFE
Don McKellar as THIEF
Maury Chaykin as ACCOUNTANT
Mitchell Nye as BOY
Danny Glover as MAN WITH THE BLACK EYE PATCH
Gael Garcia Bernal as KING OF WARD THREE
Directed by: Fernando Meirelles
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“Blindness” is set in an indeterminate country in an indeterminate time, very similar to our own. One day, for no apparent reason, people begin to go blind. The culprit is some infection, which causes the government to quarantine the blind. However, as the infection rapidly spreads through the population, chaos and anarchy ensues. The film is told from the point of view of a group of refugees trying to survive in their quarantine zone as humanity’s ugly side takes over the population.
WHAT I LIKED
While not an overt science fiction piece, “Blindness” definitely falls in the realm of speculative fiction. It can be taken on many different levels. On one hand, the film contemplates the fragility of society and how quickly we can resort to our own savage nature. On the other hand, the blindness can be seen as a metaphor for various social ills.
No matter how you look at this film, it is a chilling look at what makes us tick at our very basic nature. Like a modern-day “Lord of the Flies,” it shows how easily our population can fall into a feral nature... or worse. It’s not an easy film to watch at times, but it is hard-hitting and gut-wrenchingly realistic. We can only hope that if we were in this situation that we could rise to a higher level.
The film deliberately distances itself from identification. The country and even the time period is left ambiguous, purposely giving us clues to different cultures. Even the characters – none of which are actually given a true name – are left somewhat vague. This allows us to place our own psyches on those in the film, either to show we’d be like them or how we believe we’d do things differently.
The acting is top notch, with a cast led by Julianne Moore, who continues to prove to be an actor who is not afraid of taking risks. She is met with an excellent acting foil in Gael Garcia Bernal, who plays the scapegoat villain, introduced later in the film.
“Blindness” is dark and depressing, but strangely eye-opening.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
As much as I did enjoy this film for what it had to say about society as a whole and the potential for evil that is within all of us, “Blindness” did feel oppressive at times. It’s not a film to watch lightly, so you have to be in the right mindset to enjoy it.
The DVD comes with a slate of deleted scenes as well as a lengthy making-of documentary called “A Vision of Blindness.” The documentary is an excellent, immersive feature that takes the viewer through all aspects of filmmaking, from adapting the script to choosing how far to go with the more graphic scenes. This is an excellent bonus documentary for how it examines the process and reveals how the film was made.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Arthouse fans who don’t mind a grim look at ourselves.