Blindness – 3 out of 5
I fear going blind—unless that blindness comes with super-powers that give me a sweet echo-location-like ability, I don’t want anything to do with losing my sight. With this fear, having a film like Blindness could easily be unnerving and entertaining at the same time—sorta like how my claustrophobia helped me really get into the Ryan Reynolds starring Buried. But did it? Was I able to engross myself in this one?
|What the what?!? Moore is a blond in this film? This is an unforeseen development...|
I don't know if I'm ready for this.
Without warning one day, a young man (Yûsuke Iseya) finds he went blind—but not blind in the fact the world suddenly went dark but in the fact that the world suddenly went white, like he was submerged in a vat of milk and opened his eyes. This man—credited only as First Blind Man—visits an optometrist (Mark Ruffalo and credited only as Doctor) and he declares this "white blindness" and is quickly horrified to learn that it spreads like a plague. Doctor soon learns that he has fallen victim to "white blindness" and that everyone he’s come in contact with—like Man with Black Eye Patch (Danny Glover), Woman with Dark Glasses (Alice Braga), and other people who also aren’t actually given a name and are just credited as a vague description of their character—have also gone blind. The only exception seems to be the Doctor’s wife (Julianne Moore). The government rounds up these victims and locks them away in a quarantine zone. Soon, the numbers start growing out of control and the quarantine wards start to war over food and other commodities. However, when the day comes that they no longer hear from the outside world, the doctor’s wife leads the group outside and are horrified to find out how large the epidemic has spread…
|That blindness is quite white. The name makes sense.|
|So, basically, Ruffalo was looking like Bruce Banner before|
he ended up getting the part of Bruce Banner.
|Jesus, would you look at this mess?!? Can't you guys clean up or some--|
oops, sorry. Forgot you are all blind.
The one thing this film does extremely well is showing how hard it is for these people to adjust to losing their sight and how frustrating the responsibility of taking care of them is for Julianne Moore’s character. The use of POV shots and putting things out of focus for the blind is a simple, pretty much obvious, idea but it really helped put the viewer in their shoes and helped you understand their feelings of hopelessness and frustration. These feelings can easily be seen simmering under the surface of Julianne Moore’s character as she is forced to take care of her husband and be the person who has to keep order and sanity in the quarantine zone after the "white blindness" victims were clearly just swept under the rug. Her character takes on a lot of responsibilities and has the weight of a lot of helpless people resting on her shoulders and the exhaustion and wear it puts on her was excellent shown by Moore.
|"Have a nice trip, see you next fall. Ha ha, I'm kidding. I'm very sorry for what|
you are going through."
The film offers up some beautiful camera work and even has some great points of commentary and discussion about how the society treats the handicap, victims, and people as a whole. The film opens with the first blind man getting his car stolen by a man who is posing as a good Samaritan, the ward dissolves into anarchy and a single blind man (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) takes control of the food and demands payment and sexual favors in exchange for sustenance, and we witness the horrors of an armed militia with itchy trigger fingers who allow their fear of an outbreak overtake their sense of duty and protection. All these surface elements were interesting and made for a film that creates discourse with the viewers but Blindness suffers from a lack of…and this isn’t a pun…foresight.
|Ain't no party like a blind pajama party...because you have no fucking clue what is|
happening at a blind pajama party.
While the film has a lot of working elements, it did have some stuff that proved to be its undoing and kept it from being deeper than it could have been. The first thing that comes to mind is the film’s length. Blindness clocks in at one minute over two hours and the pace of the film and the way the story keeps changing focus as it goes from mystery epidemic to martial law-like in its rounding up of citizens and locking them away to trying to create a new blind society in the quarantine zone to dystopian breakdown of that society and the war between the wards to the venturing out into the unknown to see what came of the world—like it’s a television series pushed into two hours—the film ends up feeling like it last a whole lot longer. Too often the film drags in points—most notably when the man rises up in the quarantine building and holds the food at ransom for sex and money and you have to deal with the frustration of the only sighted person not acting fast enough—and this dragging makes the film feel like it is taking forever and kills a lot of the intrigue I had when it started.
|I came to hate this character a lot and his death didn't come fast or brutal enough.|
I also wasn’t a fan of how none of the characters have names. I get it, it plays with the theme of how these sick people weren’t treated as individuals that need help and were just faceless diseased things that were meant to be looked down upon by society and tossed aside to wither and die in their own filth and being nameless people only plays to the viewers being "blind" to the character's names but it ends up making the whole thing feel silly. Besides my nerves being rattled by watching these people struggle with the loss of their sight, I felt very little connection to most of them. Only a select few I found myself really being interested in and the rest are so often pushed aside, ignored, or even forgotten completely at points that it hurt my overall ability to really sink myself in to the drama and the characters.
|Of course, his name really could be Man with Black Eye Patch.|
Finally, director Fernando Meirelles is very preoccupied with throwing Red Herrings into the story and does a lot of cheap gags to make the viewer think one thing when, in reality, it’s the exact opposite. A few times he wants you to believe that Moore’s character has lost her sight and this same formula is done obnoxiously too often with the man who steals the First Blind Man’s car. Meirelles is constantly teasing that the man is there to screw over the blind guy but shows he's *SURPRISE* actually helping him…then this is done again and again until the fucking around has reached its zenith (and then beyond it) and we see that, yes, the dude is there to rob the blind guy; by that time, the gag is more eye-rolling than "A-ha! Well played there, Mr. Director"-ing. While this worked slightly at the beginning of the film, it gets too repetitive and the gag runs its course very quickly and takes away from the energy that could have gone to drama or character development…or even shortening the fucking movie!
|Aaaand then zombies attack. They just can't catch a break.|
Blindness has some intrigue to its mysterious blindness and is fairly interesting. It has some great performances in it and it seemed like it had a ton of potential. However, the dragging nature of the story, a running length that just felt too long and a lot of missed opportunities really hurt the film for me. It had some killer elements working for it but it also had a lot of elements that were killing it.
|"That's my secret, Capt. I'm always blind."|