Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Blindness (2008) review

Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, and Gabriel Garcia Bernall star in a
Dystopian sci-fi thriller of sorts that takes place in an unnamed (and
unfamiliar looking) that doesn't seem so far removed from us in what
appears to be the not-too-distant future. When an epidemic causes
people to suddenly go blind, the police place the first wave of victims
in a quarantine with limited resources and as the prison guards become
less visible for some unknown reason (the film brilliantly provides us
only with the point-of-view of the people inside the prison), anarchy
develops from which separate wards engage in a struggle over food.

"Blindness" is Brazillian wunderkind Fernando Meirelles' second
English-language film after breaking out to North American audiences
with his Oscar-nominated gang epic "City of God," and while it lacks
the frantic pace of "God" or "Constant Gardener," the rawness and
visual intensity of Meirelles' previous works is still on screen. The
film's epilogue runs a little long and the pacing is a little slow, but
it's thought-provoking and has a unique voice.

One might compare it to Children of Men or No Country for Old Men in its lack of interest in character development in any conventional sense. If there is any prologue before the action sinks in, it's of very little use. The characters are defined mostly by action when confronted against a seemingly unstoppable force (in Children of Men, it's a mob, in No Country for Old Men, it's a seemingly invincible man, and in Blindness, it's a natural epidemic). However, I sensed a richness to Blindness that I didn't sense in Children of Men or No Country for Old Men (even though those were Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning films and this got bashed review wise) in that the situations the characters were placed in made for a compelling morality play as well.

I saw a sort of first-world/third-world metaphor with Ward 3 and Ward 1. Ward 3 had superior firepower (the gun) so they were able to control the resources and subjugate the other wards, much like Europe was able to do with South America, Africa, and the rest of the world. There were many other takes on the film that my friends had as we had a sort of discussion afterwards. I never saw Children of Men or No Country for Old Men having that kind of potential (although NCfOM came closer). Blindness had a clear aim to be about something more than the immediate action at hand.

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