Pros: Performances by Julianne Moore & Gael García Bernal. Concept.
Cons: Experiment in Blind Cinematography failed.
Blindness (2008) Directed by Fernando Meirelles
King of Ward 3: I will not forget your voice!
Doctor's Wife: And I won't forget your face!
A man in Toronto goes blind. He's just sitting in his car, and the world goes white. A man takes him home. Since people don't spontaneously go blind, he waits a bit to see if it will get better. His wife however is having no such nonsense when she gets home. She takes him to the doctor.
There is no cause. There is no damage. The doctor sends him to the hospital for observation.
However, the story is far worse. In the morning, the doctor too goes blind. And now there is a response team in has-mat suits to collect him. His wife goes with him, claiming to be blind too so they won't be separated.
The condition is called the White Virus, though no cause is ever isolated. It is contagious; it's pattern proves that. Only the Doctor's wife seems immune.
They are put in a defunct sanitarium, an isolation ward. And there is no one to take care of them. No doctors, no nurses, only armed soldiers outside the fence who are ready to shoot them if they try to leave.
Food is dropped off, and that is the extent of the care they receive. More quarantinees arrive on a regular basis until the wards are full and beyond. And Ward 3 is ruled by an obvious sociopath...
The situation devolves into the Lord of the Flies in fairly short order. The King of Ward Three has a gun, and a lackey who has been blind from birth. Ward one has the Doctor's Wife, and her eyes.
This movie is about blindness. So the director and the cinematographer and sound man got together to see how they could make the movie as disconcerting as the world the characters find themselves in. It is dark and murky, pitch black, milky white, and dingy by turns. The sound is a constant irritant, because the newly blind never put anything away, but leave it where it falls for the next person to trip over.
The acting is good. No one uses names. Everyone is the Doctor, or the Man with the Eye-patch, Taxi Driver or The King of Ward Three. It mimics the impersonal nature of the city, yes, but also rather is like a reverse baptism; they are born into the world of white blindness, and lose their names. It is almost like times are so uncertain; no one wants to risk getting any closer. Yet, they only have each other, and crisis breeds bonds. The story is an interesting experiment, an analysis of human nature. A person is good and decent, but people are panicky animals, and when you take away the phone, the heater, and pizza delivery, it is amazing how fast we revert to savagery.
Much of what they are attempting to do is clever, but the actual execution borders on torturous. Worse, I am watching this wearing an eye patch to correct lazy eye and the central cereus retinopathy is playing hock with me. Pardon me if I take it all a little personal.
The Portuguese book "Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira" by José Saramago may have won the Nobel. The movie failed to win me.
A Cast Without Names:
Yusuke Iseya ... First Blind Man
Don McKellar ... Thief
Yoshino Kimura ... First Blind Man's Wife
Joe Pingue ... Taxi Driver
Danny Glover ... Man with the Black Eye Patch
Mitchell Nye ... Boy
Alice Braga ... Woman with Dark Glasses
Mark Ruffalo ... Doctor
Joe Cobden ... Policeman
Julianne Moore ... Doctor's Wife
Mpho Koaho ... Pharmacist's Assistant
Gael García Bernal ... The King of Ward Three
Tom Melissis ... Engineer
Tracy Wright ... Thief's Wife
Jorge Molina ... Hotel Security Guard
Patrick Garrow ... Hotel Assistant Manager
Gerry Mendicino ... Silver Haired Doctor
Sandra Oh ... Minister of Health
This review like the King of Ward Three is Lean-N-Mean, a concise 666 words.