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  Publicity Stills of "Blindness"
(Courtesy of Shaw)

Genre: Drama/Thriller
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Gael Garcia Bernal, Sandra Oh, Danny Glover
RunTime: 2 hrs
Released By: Shaw
Rating: TBA
Official Website: http://blindness-themovie.com/

Opening Day: 23 October 2008


When a sudden plague of blindness devastates a city, a small group of the afflicted band together to triumphantly overcome the horrific conditions of their imposed quarantine. "Blindness," starring Academy Award®-nominee Julianne Moore, Gael García Bernal, Mark Ruffalo, Sandra Oh and Danny Glover, is a psychological thriller about the fragility of mankind. Adapted from Nobel Laureate José Saramago's masterwork, the film is directed by Academy Award®-nominee Fernando Meirelles ("City of God") from a screenplay by Tony Award-winner Don McKellar ("The Drowsy Chaperone").

Movie Review:

At one point in the film, someone remarked that they should be thankful for a leader with vision, and while literal in meaning, it packs quite a powerful punch that having someone at the helm of society making decisions for the masses, he/she better get it right with little room to maneuver out of mistakes made. Amongst the land of the blind, having the ability to see is a tremendous asset, but also a massive liability in having to witness first hand through interpreted images from the retina, the harsh cruelties and evilness that man is capable of under circumstances of total anarchy.

Based on a novel by Jose Saramango, Blindness makes for a fascination study on man's propensity for evil, regardless of whether we have evolved or infected in a way to lose one of our primary senses. One thing's for sure is that we'll continue to adapt to new surroundings and situations, and in the struggle for survival comes the questioning and compromise of morals and values, the sacrifice of self for the greater collective good.

From the onset, the mysterious phenomenon strikes, where a Japanese motorist stops his car in traffic, and declares himself blind. Like the catalyst or the seed carrier of what could be a disease, soon after everyone else whom had come into contact with him, suffered from the same lack of vision, where unlike conventional blindness, the victims "see" all white, as if some bright lights had been turned on and perpetually shining into the eye. Such is the explanation and treatment of Blindness, that it doesn't offer you any background nor solution to this disastrous affliction to mankind, and it be best if you left it as such and not try to contemplate any possible reason, because it just is, similar to M Night Shyamalan's The Happening.

However, the movie's more of an examination of the worst of man in situations where some with added advantage over others, would choose to use their new found advantage for good, or evil. Given the paranoia gripping the city, all infected humans get quarantined into camps, and it is within one such camp that the movie spends the bulk of its time within. Mark Ruffalo plays a doctor suffering from the disease who try to maintain some sense of order, given the insights from his wife, played by Julianne Moore, who's the only one whose eyesight is not affected. Don't bother about figuring out why the immunity though.

In true survivor fashion, we see how alliances are formed, ranks are broken, and in some ways, there are avenues ripe for an action thriller, but that didn't get exploited because of the clinging onto the hopes that everyone would wake up to basic human decency. Besides, Julianne Moore and Alice Braga are no strangers to hard hitting movies, especially when the former was at one point, Clarice Starling who went up against Hannibal the Cannibal. But to compensate for the lack of "action", there are some genuinely disturbing scenarios that the characters get put through, and in these moments you're likely to feel disgusted, while at the same time ponder whether you would condone decisions and actions such as these, if it was you who was put in the same spot.

Director Fernando Meirelles had presented similarly powerful and impactive stories in earlier films such as City of God and The Constant Gardener, but in this one he puts the audience in the driver's seats, having to suffer the lack of vision through the constant fade to black or white, depending on which point of view adopted. However, while well-meaning to force a more careful attention paid to ambient sound, it does get repetitive and tiring at times since it's more of the same old one-trick that get consistently flogged.

The opening film of this year's Cannes Film Festival, I guess that tidbit alone would attract crowds to the cinema halls to check out what the fuss is about, also since there were groups which were up in arms against the movie. Just like how Flightplan cast some negative light onto cabin crews, it's not difficult to empathize why this would have done the same to the visually challenged, because of some rotten egg character that some would have taken offense at.

Movie Rating:

(Open your eyes to man's propensity for evil)

Review by Stefan Shih


. The Happening (2008)

. The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)

. The Eye (2008)

. Doomsday (2008)

. I Am Legend (2007)

. The Invasion (2007)

. The Island (2005)

. The Forgotten (2005)

. Children of Men DVD (2006)

. War of the Worlds DVD (2006)

. City of God DVD (1999)

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