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Blindness
02.11.2009 By: Mathew Plale
Blindness order
Director:
Fernando Meirelles

Actors:
Julianne Moore
Mark Ruffalo
Gael García Bernal

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An unexplained epidemic that causes one to go blind suddenly sweeps across a city, putting the infected into quarantine.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
In a nameless city, a nameless man is struck blind at rush hour. Then another. And another, until the epidemic spreads to everyone in the city—and maybe the world. Except a doctor’s wife.

Why? And why does it take the military guards—assigned to snipe any of the plagued that try escaping from their makeshift quarantine—so long to go blind? Do they even go blind? Maybe the government’s immune. But then why has the Minister of Health (Sandra Oh) lost her sight?

Not every movie—especially of the science fiction type—needs to have answers to all of our questions. But it does need logic and guidance, something director Fernando Meirelles provides neither of (he’s more concerned with what post-production effects he can overuse). So we’re left to guess. I’ll play, but am forced to condescend: Blindness must be a metaphor of some kind for…the world we live in. Right? Incompetent governments, blind leading the blind! We’re all zombies in societies molded for us! We’ll turn on each other at the drop!

That seems to be how it goes in Blindness. The designated hospital/prison is split into three wards. In Ward One, the doctor’s wife (Julianne Moore) fakes the ailment to aid her husband (Mark Ruffalo, still not a capable actor), and puts herself in control of the facility, even though no one knows she can see. Then comes a scruffy mutt (Gael García Bernal), who finds a gun, declares himself King of Ward Three, and demands Ward One’s jewelry and women in exchange for limited quantities of food.

Why does it take so long for the doctor’s wife to step in and seize some real control over the others? She can see, and is therefore at advantage over the King and all his men, but instead she lets starvation and rape occur. If it doesn’t make sense, it must be a metaphor. So, again: She represents an authority figure who, eh, even though she can see, is still, eh, blind to what others want. Right? Are we on the right track?

If you ever find yourself in a Q&A with Meirelles or José Saramago, who wrote the novel, that might be the only reasonable time to break the Cardinal Rule of Interviewing Artists, and ask, “What does it mean?” Then follow up with “What’s the point?” It would stump them.
THE EXTRAS
A Vision of Blindness (55:29): This documentary takes a look at the production of Blindness using interviews and (pre-/post-)production footage. Topics include the actors’ training in being blind, locations/production design, adapting José Saramago’s novel, themes, different techniques of filming (including “guerrilla”), the music, and more. A fascinating making of… for those that liked the film.

Deleted Scenes: There are five quick throwaways here, all with “written introductions” by Fernando Meirelles explaining why each was cut from the final product.

Sneak Peeks.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The illogical Blindness is the first disappointment in the career of director Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) that amounts to little more than a pathetic and insulting attempt at a feature-length adaptation of a Twilight Zone episode.
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