Sunday, 7 December 2008
I remember all the pre-release Oscar buzz for this film, yet it came and went without a fuss, with politely positive reviews but nothing too extra-ordinary. As far as I can tell, this seems to be a fair assessment. There are good things about Blindness, but there's also a fair amount of triteness and cheese too. The good outweighs the bad though, and its central concept is most certainly a chilling one.
The story sees the world essentially incapacitated by an epidemic of unexplained blindness. In attempt to quell this outbreak, those amongst the infected are quarantined in a hospital, completely shut-off from the outside world. Its up to the only person who can see, billed as the doctor's wife and played by Julianne Moore, to stop the blind from ripping each other apart. First things first, the rules of fair warning state I have to say that this film is quite gross. Filth and rot everywhere, folks and most definitely not for the squeamish. Despite this, director Fernando Meireilles makes the film look unforgettably haunting, and parts of it you won't forget. Julianne Moore is suitably stoic and tough as the sighted messiah, but she is also quite closed off and the character is more lean then it should have been, making for quite a frosty heroine. Instead the most relatable character is Mark Ruffalo's gently noble Doctor, who ends up immensely over-whelmed by the situation. Ruffalo is another great actor sneaking under the radar, but seems to be getting some better roles at last. The film's best performance comes from Gael Garcia Bernal as 'The King of Ward 3' who hijacks the hospital's food supply along with a blind from birth cohort and makes increasingly monstrous demands of his fellow detainees. Anyone who wishes to keep thinking of Bernal as a sex symbol would do well to give this a miss, because he is a truly vile bastard here. Its a terrific performance though, played with a demented eagerness by Bernal. The script, written by Don mcKellar who also has a small role, is a little stifled with dialogue often sounding forced but its structured quite well, and gives ample opportunity for Meireilles to show mad visual skills.
All in all, a tough watch and hardly awards worthy but has enough good qualities to make it worth it. Its a shame Moore is short-changed by her character because you get the sense she could have been much better if given a more fleshed out role.