22 November 2008

'Blindness' - Out Now - smack you with the blindingly obvious...

dir. Fernando Merielles
Julianne Moore, Mark Rufallo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Danny Glover

Merielles' (The Constant Gardener, City of God) adaptation of Nobel Prize winning author Jose Saramango's apocalyptic tale is an ambitious, but flawed creation. As the unnamed residents of an unnamed city are struck blind one by one, Mark Ruffalo's (Zodiac) Doctor attempts to understand the contagious condition. However, when he too is infected and taken to quarantine, his unaffected wife (Julianne Moore) becomes the only person with vision (physically, and woo, like, spiritually). Moore's character soon has to contend with the increasing depravity of the holding hospital and becomes, by default, responsible for leading the randomly thrown together strangers (including Danny Glover and Alice Braga) and defending them from the nasty gang-rape fixated elements of the hospital/prison (Gael Garcia Bernal, Maury Chaykin).

Blindness suffers from a peculiar heavy-handedness in its completely unsubtle sub-text. The audience feels like it's being bludgeoned over the head with the blindingly (sorry) obvious. Something along the lines of 'humanity is blind to bad things and we aren't terribly nice to one another'. If this can somehow be put to one side (I couldn't really) it could maybe be possible to enjoy Blindness as a stylish, 'zombie-ish' thriller. (Misanthropic/apocalyptic 'Zombie' thrillers are absolutely everywhere these days. Where were they when I needed them, in the early 90's??) For most of us however, the film's simplistic (and worryingly exploitative) handling of the source material renders it a largely unlovable and unpleasant  experience.