Blindness

blindness

Fernando Meirelles, Canada, 2008, 121 min.

Across a nameless country an epidemic is causing people to lose their sight. The government takes drastic measures and quarantines the afflicted. A doctor (Mark Ruffalo) becomes blind and his loyal wife (Julianne Moore) pretends she’s blind in order to accompany him into quarantine. This sets the framework for a blunt allegory about morality in Fernando Meirelles’ ugly and disappointing Blindness.

And by ugly, I mean ugly. The vivid portraits of Brazil and Africa in Meirelles’ previous work have been replaced by a cold, grimy, austere city inhabited by uninteresting, unlikable characters. Thank god the epidemic happens quickly. Before you know it the central characters have willingly been locked up in a prison-like building, left to fend for themselves.

The doctor’s wife keeps her sight a secret, but soon becomes the groups “den-mother” because she is the only one who can help. Power struggles ensue. Food becomes scarce. Things become chaotic. Filth, darkness, violence, rape, murder. It’s all there.

The characters grow more and more desperate and mindless. It’s a shame that the cast (Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal, etc.) doesn’t have more to do. The script sucked the life out of everyone.

It’s all so unpleasant, and the big allegory doesn’t come close to saving the experience. The film, as well as Jose Saramago’s book, is supposed to be about losing your “moral sight.” Losing the ability to see people with compassion. So basically what we are told is that if you lose what makes you good, you become evil. Bravo.

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