Favorite

Sensory overload 

‘Blindness’ can be hard to watch.

BLIND LOVE: Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore star.
  • BLIND LOVE: Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore star.

Don't let its uplifting previews lull you: Every moment of triumph and joy in “Blindness” has to be earned from a film that may rank among the darkest in cinema. If you can't sit through scenes of — spoiler alert — dogs eating a corpse and a group rape, “Blindness” may be destined for your Netflix queue, the better to mute and fast-forward. But if you enjoy films that crawl down your throat and play jai alai in your stomach, by all means, “Blindness” is for you. It's just damn hard to watch.

Based on the 1995 novel that preceded Portuguese author Jose Saramago's Nobel Prize in Literature, “Blindness” takes place in an unnamed city (shot in Sao Paolo, Montevideo and Toronto) populated with nameless characters. A sudden, unexplained epidemic of blindness spreads quickly from a man who goes blind while driving to an ophthalmologist (Mark Ruffalo). Those initially blinded are quarantined and left mostly to fend for themselves in a dingy asylum as the all-whiteout blindness spreads. (“It feels like I'm swimming in milk,” says one of the afflicted.)

The twist: the doctor's wife (Julianne Moore) has admitted herself to the asylum to stick by her husband, concealing the fact that she alone can still see. More patients arrive as, outside, the sickness multiplies.

This is the mousetrap that director Fernando Meirelles (“City of God”) and screenwriter Don McKellar (“The Red Violin”) have constructed after the novel: part disaster movie, part prison movie, and due to the characters without handle or history, part parable. The doctor's wife ponders the etymological connection between the words “agnosia” (inability to recognize visual stimulus) and “agnostic,” both cousin to the Greek term for “ignorance.” Yet Meirelles is just as uninterested in explicit allegory as he is with plot twists or gotcha moments. He'd rather see how frail, venal and determined people charter a society of the damned.

As the only sighted inmate, the doctor's wife is left to shoulder the burden of the dissolving physical and moral conditions inside the asylum. In this transformation, she carries the story. With as little development as the film offers other characters (Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal and a wonderfully despicable Maury Chaykin) Moore has to be brilliant in this regard. Blessedly, she is.

Her evolution has to be enough, because at its core, this is a movie not about specific people, but action, situation and, by definition, sensation. With its bleached palette and frequent dissolves, the film reminds the viewer constantly of the characters' impairment. The score, spare in quantity and emotion, lets the sounds of the asylum — the chatter of a cane sweeping across a rough floor, the clipped breathing of furtive screwing, a song on the radio — reverberate. The imagination is left to conjure the smells and sounds and tactile sensations that must populate the minds of the characters. The result can be nothing shy of overwhelming, especially when shutting your eyes only draws you further in.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

Readers also liked…

  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation