Directed by Fernando Meirelles
Like so many films before it, Fernando Meirelles' Blindness was struck down by the Cannes opening night curse. For some reason, any film that opens the Cannes Film Festival is inevitably struck by a vicious critical backlash that kills its future. It's as if the Cannes promoters deliberately choose one of the weaker entries to open the festival to absorb critical damage early before the real line-up of films begins. Like so many of the titles attacked before it, Blindness is by no means a perfect film; however, it was undeserving of the critical mauling and commercial indifference it received. The film is about a world in which people are suddenly and inexplicably stricken by blindness. Unsure of what's causing the blindness or how to stop it, the government elects to quarantine the infected. Julianne Moore plays the only member of the quarantined community who can see, faking blindness to take care of her husband (Mark Ruffalo). Up until this point, the movie plays perfectly as a psychological thriller with underpinnings of social commentary. But sadly, once the blind are locked off from the rest of society the films lurches into heavy-handed allegory about the darkest sides of human nature. If you've read Lord Of The Flies, you already know everything that's going to occur in this section of the feature. Still, it hardly kills the movie. The material probably worked quite well in the novel and just needed to be toned down in the film. Blindness is by no means a masterpiece, and it's certainly the weakest film that City Of God director Fernando Meirelles has made yet. But that's more of a testament to Meirelles' skill than anything else (it would be the best film of most directors' careers). Ultimately this material was probably just better suited to the page than the screen. In a novel, authors can get away with much more unrealistic behaviour for the purposes of symbolism than directors can onscreen. Despite its problems, this is still a very intelligent and visually stunning piece of filmmaking that deserves to be seen. The DVD contains one lone special feature, in the form of a production diary by Meirelles, which can only be accessed via icons that appear on screen during the film. The short docs are interesting and well produced but it's undeniably frustrating that they cannot be accessed without watching the film in its entirety.
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