03 October 2008

At the movies: Blindness.


Blindness is a mess. It's an ambitious mess, one that aims to resonate
with all cultures and all ideologies in confronting them with a truly
universal crisis, but still not an overwhelmingly successful
adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago's novel about a world
struck blind.

Director Fernando Meirelles is a gifted visual stylist, and he does
well with flashy transitions and trippy fades, but he still
demonstrates the same inability to connect with the emotional root of
a story that has plagued his work since City of God, his international
breakthrough back in 2002. And with a work like this, you've got to
have a visceral emotional connection or everything just falls apart
into overly-didactic object lessons.

But there are moments of overwhelming power, most all of which come
from star Julianne Moore. She has always been a reliable embodiment of
gravitas and passion, but here she becomes the embodiment of all that
human society represents, and she pulls it off beautifully. Even
without her usual red hair, she burns with a fierce grace onscreen,
and if the film comes close to achieving the grand vision of its
source material, it is thanks to her. The rest of the supporting cast
puts their all into it, but this is Moore's show.

I admire a film like Blindness, a film with a bleak vision that still
finds hope in humanity's resilience and adaptability. I admire that so
many talented people put their all into making such a weird film. But
I don't think anyone is going to learn anything from this film, and I
don't think attitudes will be changed by it. Film can shape ideas and
influence lives, but I think humanity is too far gone to tune into
this film's vibe. No one trusts any institutions anymore. No one
thinks anyone will help them in times of strife. How many thousands of
people stayed in their homes during Hurricane Ike, despite the
warnings of certain death? No one trusts anyone, and we're past the
point of a quasi-Sci-Fi allegory to help. Or rather, thinking back to Children of Men, we're past the point of this specific SciFi allegory to help.

1 comment:

Sam Smith said...

My expectations were pretty low for BLINDNESS after hearing from you and others. And the sheer artful ambition of the movie and its direction was almost disturbingly fresh at first -- the kind of movie that no Hollywood studio you can think of would really want to release. Yes, the allegory seems to cover familiar ground. But once the third act kicked in (I always love a third act that I didn't see coming), I decided that the allegory was much more complex. Then certain scenes just bowled me over, like Escape from the Grocery Store, or Rain. By the last shot, it was a TKO. Today, it's stuck with me like the rarest of strange dreams.

I'm so glad that the concert provided such an experience for you. Let me know what you think of the album when you get a chance to have a good listen.