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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 09.28.08] post apocalyptic movie review

Year: 2008
Release date: Unknown
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Writers: José Saramago (novel) & Don McKellar (screenplay)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 9 out of 10

When City of God was released, it caused quite a stir among film fans. The film was both a critical and financial success and out of nowhere, director Fernando Meirelles became the next big thing. His follow up, an adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, The Constant Gardener was an entertaining film but both the story and style seemed conventional. I had expected more from the director who had been so innovative with his debut feature. For his third film, Meirelles has again taken up the written word for translation ontot he big screen this time choosing to take on Nobel Prize winning author José Saramago’s work.

As a novel “Blindness” is a brutally honest examination of the human condition when pushed to the edge and Meirelles’ film manages to capture all of Saramago’s themes. A sudden illness begins afflicting the population of a city leaving the sufferers blind. As a precaution, the health organization gathers all of the afflicted and sends them to a containment camp which appears to be an old jail. The quarantined group is small to begin with and they quickly set up a form of governship that seems to work but as more infected arrive, the small society begins to fall apart. A group of men decides that it is going to take charge of the food and from here, the situation quickly begins to dissintegrate. The resulting chaos serves as a reminder of the violence which rests within humanity but it also shines a light on the opposing goodness of people. Mixed in among the big moral dilemas are smaller stories of individuals and relationships which further question motives and preconceptions. The film doens’t just focus on the social aspects of the fall of manking, it’s also interested in relationship dynamics and how they change.

Blindness owes a fair bit of its success to the fantastic performanes. Meirelles is much more concerned with the story than with the visuals (though that’s not to say that the film is lacking in the technical department). Poor performances could have seriously hindered the film but this cast doesn’t fail. Julianne Moore leads the way, yet again playing the woman on the brink of colapse. As the only one in the camp who can see, she is mother and protector and her performance is both tortured and strong. Moore has built her career on roles like this one but here, there’s a tenderness to her that I had yet to see. Mark Ruffalo, an actor who showed great promise with earlier roles, is on a war path. He was excellent in Zodiac and his performance here is wonderful, walking the fine line between fearless leader and helpless victim. Alice Braga proves that she’s more than just a pretty face and Gael García Bernal stands out in a showey but unforgettable performance as the leader of the corrupt group but it’s Danny Glover who surprises. It’s been years since I’ve seen him in anything memorable but his small, quiet performance here is indication that the actor isn’t done yet.

Visually, Meirelles does not disappoint. His vision of a city in collapse is eerily reminiscent of 28 Days Later, it’s follow up 28 Weeks Later and even children of Men (though not quite to that level of devastation). Meirelles uses the decaying surroundings as a metaphor for the corruption of society and the result is an ugly marvel; a cityscape crowded by garbage, bodies and animals. The director also makes excellent use of the fact that the the victims suffer from an ailment which leaves them seeing everything white rather than black and portions of the film are stark white, which adds yet another layer to the alredy metaphor dense film.

Like the novel it’s based on, Blindness is a cerebral film. Though on the surface it makes for an excellent, bleekly entertaining apocalyptic drama, peeling back the layers reveals the film’s real staying power. This is the type of film that keeps audiences deep in discussion well into the night and which lingers in the consciousness long after the lights have come up.

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agentorange (14 years ago) Reply

I knew those early lukewarm reviews were full of crap. Thanks for the review Marina, I can't wait to see this.


Kurt (14 years ago) Reply

BLINDNESS is one of the best films of the year, don't believe the reviews, because there are at least 3 cuts of the film out there. Strange that the cut shown if VIFF may not have been the one I saw at TIFF. I don't recall any voice over.
Either way, the film was fabulous.


quietearth (14 years ago) Reply

I'm dying to see this now that some reliable people have given it positive reviews, nice job Marina!


Kurt (14 years ago) Reply

If I'm correct and Marina (above) saw the 'middle' version of the film, I'm going to pimp out as having three reviews, one from each of the three cuts of the film (Pre-Cannes rough-cut, Cannes-cut with Danny Glover voice-over, and lean and mean tightend-up TIFF-cut).


cyberhal (14 years ago) Reply

I'm in.


Anonymous (11 years ago) Reply

This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. The "heroine" is a spineless sniveling excuse for a woman (I mean, she can see and just lets all this stuff happen, please), and the rest of the ppl are savage and cruel, with few redeeming qualities. If you like graphic gang rape scenes and seeing humanity portrayed as nothing more than animals, then go ahead and watch this movie.

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