Blindness (2008) Fernando Meirelles

Production Budget: $25 million
Worldwide Gross: 4 million

Blindness is a movie based on the Nobel Prize winning novel by Jose Saramago.  Meirelles (City of God/The Constant Gardner) had been working on getting the rights to this novel since 1997.  Blindness is an independent production funded by a Brazilian/Canadian production pair up.  The movie received very mixed reviews ranging from masterpiece to piece of sh*t.  Blindness also receive very minor controversy when the blind community boycotted the film for its portrayal of the blind.  Ha’den the f*ck up blind people!

The movie is about a new disease which causes blindness in people.  This blindness is not black, instead victims see a milky white.  The first few afflicted are put in quarantine in an abandoned mental hospital.  Order soon breaks down as one ward dominates the others and makes demands in exchange for the incoming food shipments.

Is it any good?  The truth lies more in the middle.  The movie is NOT a piece of sh*t and it is not a masterpiece.  I would say it is a very good movie.  I think the one thing that puts people off is the very dark (no pun intended) first half of the movie.  We see humanity at its worst when the diseased are put in quarantine and left to their own devices.  They become like animals and have lost all sense of morality.  We see people living in sh*t, brutalization of the blind, and prolonged incidents of rape.  As Ebert put it, the characters are so unlikable that the redemption in the third act does not make up for all they did in the past.  But I think you have to see Blindness (again, no pun. I swear!) as looking at the best and worst of humanity.  These peoples orderly lives are turned on their heads and they lose their sense of identity and we see how self centered they are.  In the second half we see them cope with their illness and actually grow to be stronger as a community.

One of the things that I guess I didn’t like was the overuse of flashy camera techniques.  You can guess with a concept like blindness, the director was creaming himself at the idea of using every arty shot in his arsenal.  Now I don’t mean to bash Meirelles too much.  Actually many of the shots he uses are good, but a lot are just Meirelles trying way too hard.

The acting from Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal are especially good.  I haven’t yet read the book, so I can’t quite say how close it is to the source material.  But Saramago was very protective of selling the book rights (seeing as how it took Meirelles 10 years to get) so I don’t think the adaptation would go too far off the path.

So overall, this was a very good film.  I would say worth a rental especially since this is not being shown on many screens.

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