Blindness

"Bad"

Blindness Review


Fernando Meirelles' Blindness was adapted from the novel written by Portuguese Nobel-laureate Jose Saramago. The novel follows a singular woman who somehow goes uninfected when a sudden, freakish plague of "white blindness" strikes the planet, leaving her the sole witness to moral and sanitary decay and atrocities unmentionable in a prison for the infected. What was a poetic, exhaustively-brilliant piece of fiction has now become a clunky, clattering, ever-collapsing film of bludgeoning rhetoric.

The woman (Julianne Moore) tags along with her ophthalmologist husband (Mark Ruffalo) when he is struck by the blindness and sent to the initial holding facility for the infected. Visually plagued by random flashes of pure white, the film hams up Saramago's eloquent metaphor as the wards of the facility become factions. One splinter supports a dictator (Gael García Bernal) and an accountant (Maury Chaykin) who garner the entirety of the rations supplied by the army. Possessions and eventually women are traded for meager portions as the nameless woman begins to consider her tolerance in the face of a shadowy, violent orgy that even Argentine provocateur Gaspar Noé might find a little too much.

Everything's a mess, and credit production designer Tule Peake for making the facility gradually decay from livable to a believable Gomorrah. But Don McKellar's script often airs on the side of exposition, unable to translate the subtleties of Saramago's language to a visual medium. The actors, who show a beguiling dedication, border on laughable as they struggle to both comprehend and articulate the filmmaker's misguided aim. Meirelles, whom we last saw directing Ralph Fiennes in The Constant Gardener, seems oddly unfocused and adrift in the film's soggy melodrama. Even the talented cinematographer César Charlone, who has worked with Meirelles since before City of God, doesn't know how to yield his rambunctious camera to the subdued material.

Things become grimmer, production-wise, when a riot causes the facility to burn down and the inmates find that the manned gates have been abandoned by afflicted soldiers. Out of the madhouse and into the streets they go, finding little more than other packs of roaming, hungry humans. Cannibalism makes no outward appearance, but watching Moore go ravenous on a piece of chorizo and a pack of dogs feeding on a corpse's entrails get the point across. The woman's group, which includes her husband, a boy, an elderly man (Danny Glover), and a prostitute (Alice Braga) amongst others, search for the ophthalmologist's home.

The term "unadaptable" comes up often in literary adaptations but is rarely justified. Think of all the people that said William Burrough's Naked Lunch was without hope until they met a Canadian named Cronenberg. [In fairness, many still say that. -Ed.] But sometimes it's true: A work of literature is based so intrinsically on the medium itself that to adapt it is to wipe the slate clean and reduce the story to happenstance. You could chalk it up to a bad fit seeing as Meirelles is a director of heavy movement and action and Blindness, in literary form anyway, is a work of crushing political theorizing, though that excuses too much.

Its failure certainly has nothing to do with the patently ridiculous claim from the National Federation of the Blind that the film treats the blind like "monsters." If it's one thing the film and the novel have in common it's the fact that the characters' behaviors have to do with our primal reactions to true catastrophe, not our reaction to disability. It relieves the film from pitiful outcries, but it is little comfort when faced with an utter disappointment from an otherwise daring director.

I once was blind but now... aw, I'm still blind.



Blindness

Facts and Figures

Run time: 121 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd October 2008

Box Office USA: $3.1M

Budget: $25M

Distributed by: Miramax

Production compaines: Rhombus Media, O2 Filmes, Bee Vine Pictures, Alliance Films, Ancine, Asmik Ace Entertainment, BNDES, Cinema Investment, Corus Entertainment, Fox Filmes do Brasil, GAGA, Movie Central Network, Téléfilm Canada

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Fresh: 66 Rotten: 88

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: , , Sonoko Sakai

Starring: as Doctor, as Doctor's Wife, as King of Ward 3, as Man with black eye patch, as Woman with dark glasses, as First blind man, Kimura Yoshino as First blind man's wife, as Thief, as Accountant, Mitchell Nye as Boy, as Taxi driver, Joe Cobden as Police man

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.