Imagine being the only person left in the world, or your immediate surroundings at least, who can see. It would make you rather valuable. Plus more isolated in a way. And at an obvious advantage over everyone else. Such is the case for one woman in the Fernando Meirelles’ (The City of God, The Constant Gardener) film, Blindness.
Driving his car, suddenly at a red light a man (Yusuke Iseya – 13 Assassins) can see nothing. A not so noble man (Don McKellar – The Red Violin, Scot Pilgrim vs. the World) helps him home. There the man waits for his wife (Yoshino Kimura) to get home. Once there she brings him to an eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight, Foxcatcher), who is a little mystified as to what is wrong.
At home the eye doctor talks to his wife (Julianne Moore – The Hours, Still Alice) about the baffling case. Later that night and the next day, many people are struck with the same type of sudden blindness including the eye doctor. Soon they find out that his wife is one of the few people left with sight.
It becomes apparent to the authorities that the blindness or whatever causes it is contagious. So they decide to quarantine those afflicted in an abandoned mental hospital. The doctor’s wife pretends to be blind as well so she and her husband will not be separated. She becomes the pack leader for a small group which includes the original blind man, his wife, a man with an eye patch (Danny Glover – Lethal Weapon, Dreamgirls), a woman with dark glasses (Alice Braga – Elysium, I Am Legend), and a mother (Fabiana Gugli) and her son (Mitchell Nye – The Colony).
The wife is valuable as a gang of criminals and deviants led by the King of Ward Three (Gabriel Garcia Bernal – from television’s Mozart in the Jungle) begin to take advantage of the other residents of the mental hospital. Unable to bear it any longer and out of food, the wife leads her little family out into the outside world to find out that it is not much better out there.
Based on a novel by Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, Blindness is another tale based on human fear that the world we live in is going to change drastically and not for the better. If it is not disease then it is war or zombies or aliens or destruction of the planet rendering it inhabitable. We are worried about what our future holds for us. It never seems to be good.
The premise is an interesting one but it drags on so much that all the wind is taken out of the film’s sails. Adapting this type of novel in which human nature is put under the microscope is not an easy ask. Much of the detail of the written version is often not able to be translated onto the screen. As such, much of the required nuance is lost.
We do get the picture that when push comes to shove, that precious few humans retain any redeeming qualities. Once something awful happens it is rare the person who is not looking out for number one. The dark in tone allegories of the film can be rather trying after a while. Not a film that will leave you feeling very hopeful if there is a large scale crisis.
Abrupt is the only way I can describe the ending. It just ends. Many of the questions raised during the course of the film are left unresolved or even dealt with. Such as why was the wife not affected by the blindness? Leaves one with a rather bad taste in your mouth and also unsatisfied. I was certainly left wanting more from the film.