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BLINDNESS

SYNOPSIS:
A Japanese man (Yusuke Iseya) suddenly sees white and goes blind while driving home from work. Soon everyone he meets: his wife (Yoshino Kimura), his eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo), the Woman with Dark Glasses (Alice Braga) suffer the same fate. The victims of the 'White Sickness' are quarantined in a run-down mental asylum, where all social niceties disappear. Even though she has not been afflicted like everyone else, the Doctor's Wife (Julianne Moore) pretends she is blind in order to stay with her husband. Survival becomes more difficult as the days pass, when the self named King of Ward Three (Gael García Bernal) makes up his own depraved rules.

Review by Louise Keller:
In his acclaimed apocalyptic novel, it is easy to understand how author José Saramago 's use of blindness could be an interesting parable to our inability to connect with our fellow man. However, as a film, Blindness is an irritating experience. Neither Don McKellar's screenplay or Fernando Meirelles's direction are able to capture the right tone and as a result, the film whitewashes Saramago 's vision, both figuratively and literally.

None of the characters have names; they are described by their occupation or appearance. 'Swimming in milk' is how Yusuke Iseya's First Blind Man describes the sensation when he suddenly loses his sight (sees white) when driving through a busy intersection. Alice Braga's Woman with the Dark Glasses (a call girl blinded on the job) is the next one to be stricken and the irony does not escape us that the wife of Mark Ruffalo's eye doctor (Julianne Moore) eventually becomes the only sighted person remaining. Saramago's story is about sight and perspective and Meirelles uses both as tools for our journey of morals. In the novel it may work to be led through the story from the point of view of different characters, but on screen it is confusing. Moore's perspective is the most apt; we see what she sees in the quarantined hospital where unimaginable ugliness (greed, rape, bullying, murder) take place. Meirelles uses an unsaturated visual style with plenty of white; I often felt as though I was peering into a dense white fog.

It ends up like an acting workshop (Gael García Bernal is chilling as the King of Ward Three) and the characters discover that dignity has no price. We learn little about the characters, except they will do anything to survive - physically and emotionally - even if it is contrary to their moral compass. From the director of City of God and The Constant Gardener, this is an unwieldy disappointment.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

BLINDNESS (MA)
(Canada/Brazil/Japan, 2008)

CAST: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga, Yusuke Iseya, Yoshino Kimura, Don McKellar, Jason Bermingham, Maury Chaykin, Mitchell Nye, Eduardo Semerjian, Danny Glover, Gael García Bernal

PRODUCER: Andrea Barata Ribeiro, Niv Fichman, Sonoko Sakai

DIRECTOR: Fernando Meirelles

SCRIPT: Don McKella, (Novel by José Saramago)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: César Charlone

EDITOR: Daniel Rezende

MUSIC: Marco Antônio Guimarães

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Matthew Davies, Tulé Peak

RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 19, 2009







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