A city is struck by an inexplicable plague that causes everyone to lose their sight. One woman withstands the case of blindness and fights to help her husband and seven strangers escape the chaos.from£5.59 | RRP:
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Fernando Meirelles directs this thriller based on the novel by Portuguese author Jose Saramago. In an unnamed city an epidemic of 'white sickness' sweeps the population, causing sufferers to turn instantaneously blind. Ordinary citizens find themselves lost in the middle of busy streets, forced to rely on the goodwill of strangers - which, it turns out, is in short supply as criminals take advantage of the sightless, seizing the food rations proffered by the government and demanding payment in valuable or sexual favours. Julianne Moore plays a doctor's wife whose sight is unaffected by the plague. Following her afflicted husband into quarantine, she keeps her sight a secret, and manages to guide a group of seven strangers out onto the ravaged streets of the city, where the trappings of civilisation have all but disappeared. Their voyage is a dangerous one, and the group's survival ultimately depends on simple human acts of kindness and empathy.
Average Rating for Blindness  - 4 out of 5
(based on 3 user reviews)
Blindness Jeanette Hardy
Blindness is a powerful, but ultimately flawed film that uses a global epidemic of sudden, unexplained and contagious blindness as the jumping-off point for a serious and downbeat examination of human nature at its worst. At the film's centre is a group of unnamed individuals - a doctor (Mark Ruffalo) and his wife (Julianne Moore), a thief, a child, a businessman, an older man who was already blind in one eye, and several others - who are forced into isolation in an internment camp as part of the government response to the outbreak of the illness, and who form their own microcosm of society that quickly degenerates into in-fighting over living conditions and food.
The film begins with a relatively interesting premise: what would we do if everyone suddenly went blind? Unfortunately, however, the answers it provides are too divorced from reality for us to really be able to invest in the subsequent fallout - even though the character relationships and commentary on social ills that the film provides are all very interesting in their own right.
Only one of the main characters retains her sight - the doctor's wife - and while her presence as the blind community's only sighted member is kept secret for most of the story, it hangs heavy over every development. As the doctor becomes increasingly reliant on her, their relationship changes from husband and wife to something more akin to a nurse and her patient; and as they grow apart, the doctor gradually finds himself having more in common with one of the other, blind, female inmates.
Elsewhere in the story, we see a group of violent thugs take over a section of the internment camp, initially forcing other inmates to trade valuables for food - and later, forcing them into sex-slavery in a disturbing and graphic sequence that comes close to rivalling Irreversible for depicting one of the most difficult-to-watch scenes of sexual abuse that you'll ever see on film. It's at this point that you realise that Blindness isn't going to be a film about redemption - it's just about surviving the worst that humanity can throw at you.
While there are more uplifting moments in the movie - especially towards the end - Blindness is for the most part a gruelling journey that throws its characters from one bad place to another, with very little in the way of respite. But that's not why I've given it an average score: in fact, those hard-to-watch scenes are some of the most gripping and compelling parts of the movie.
No, Blindness earns a three-star review because it fails to tether its events to a logical plot, and forces its characters to go through their hellish experiences without adequately convincing the audience that there would be no alternative. A good example is the nature of the internment camp. It's a basic, functional place with only the bare minimum of eating and cleaning facilities - but we're never given an explanation as to why the government of the unidentified country in which the film takes place would see fit to house a large group of suddenly-blinded people in such a place in the early stages of the epidemic, especially with minimial supervision (they appear to only be overseen by soldiers, who seem ready to shoot the inmates at the slightest sign of trouble)
Also, while the doctor's wife chooses to conceal the fact that she hasn't gone blind (which itself is never explained) from many of the inmates, there are plenty of difficult situations in which her ability to see would give her a huge advantage over the other prisoners, and would enable her to overcome problems far more easily than the way in which they eventually play out - especially when matters of life or death are at stake. There's never any convincing reason given why this doesn't happen, so I can only assume it's because director Fernando Meirelles and writer Don McKellar wanted certain things to occur in the movie and tried to fit them into the story as best they could, regardless of the characters' abilities or motivation. It just feels like lazy filmmaking, when just a few extra scenes to explain these discrepancies would have smoothed things over far more convincingly.
After watching this movie, I couldn't help but think how great it could have been: a cautionary, Lord Of The Flies type story for adults, set in the modern world, with some interesting visual representations of blindness (which is shown here as being like a milky whiteness obscuring the field of vision) and an uncompromising approach to its most brutal and depraved moments. As it is, though, it's merely an okay film that explores some interesting ideas but has too many holes in the story to simply overlook. Nevertheless - and if you'll forgive the pun - Blindness is definitely something that is worth seeing, flaws and all.
Blindness Barnaby Walter
This startling, Lord-of-the-Flies-esque vision of our society looks at how humans behave when one of our most important senses is taken from us - sight. This is a chilling and punishing vision of us as a race, battling to survive with our old morals become irrelevant and primal instincts taking over.
The loss of sight is obviously a sensitive subject, but it is handled with an uncompromising but expert hand - namely director Fernando Meirelles - and manages to be both thoughtful and punishing. The blindness spreads, an epidemic ravaging a city, destroying its society and normal way of life. Those who can see herd those who can't into a disused hospital. In this hospital a new society is set up, a society ruled by the self elected blind "King" (played by stunningly by Gael García Bernal) who orders the women to trade sex for food.
Julianne Moore, ever expanding her repertoire of put-upon-women, dazzles with her gift of a character; a selfless doctor's wife who is the last remaining person with the ability to see. Meirelles' vision of blindness, shown using a bright white light, is masterly realised, and gives us a potential metaphor to play with in our minds - maybe being blind is actually seeing the light, and makes us truly see what we have become.
Blindness Kashif Ahmed
Excellent, intentionally disturbing, adaptation of Jose Saramago's critically acclaimed novel. When a mysterious blindness epidemic threatens to paralyse the world, fascistic sentiments are manifested in the shape of interment centres, where it"s literally a case of the blind leading the blind. An ophthalmologist (Mark Rufflao on fine form) and his wife (an ever reliable Julianne Moore) brave the concentration camp as conditions change from chaos to control and control to tyranny. Gael Garcia Bernal puts in an expectedly powerful, scene stealing performance as The King Of Ward 3, self proclaimed dictator whose authoritarian façade is held together by nothing more than hubris and intimidation; thus proving that's it"s not the rulers who are strong, but the ruled who're weak. Director Fernando Meirelles ('City Of God', 'The Constant Gardener') ensures Saramago's intriguing premise retains its power as an allegory for arrogance, selfishness and ignorance. 'Blindness' is like Stephen King's 'The Stand' meets Luis Buñuel's 'The Exterminating Angel' in the way that societal norms and conventions erode to reveal a violent depravity, seemingly beyond the control of those upon whom it descends. I can appreciate how a slight miscalculation in the origins of Bernal's character may have offended the blind, but it doesn't appear to be intentional or detract from the message in any way whatsoever. 'Blindness' is the kind of film Stanley Kubrick would've made in his 'Clockwork Orange' heyday, and you'll not see another picture like it all year: Brutal but brilliant.
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