Tuesday, April 7, 2009

BLINDNESS (Fernando Meirelles, 2008, Brazil) The pure white aura of ignorance descends upon the masses, forcing them to question their core beliefs and perceptions of the caustic world they inhabit. The film is a parable concerning agnosticism; the belief that the hard substance of reality is transparent, that what is suspected of being true is ultimately unknowable. Nameless characters journey through this shadow world, their structured reality devoured by an interior alien landscape that reveals their own doubts, desires, and naked aggression. As an epidemic of blindness consumes an unidentified city, a group of infected is quarantined in an abandoned building with few amenities, guarded by the military who shoots any victim that attempts escape. BLINDNESS is not about the loss of sight; that is only a device to reflect the disintegration of social order, the corrosive anarchy that replaces law, as human beings descend into slavering animals. It reminds us how close we as a species are to total annihilation…by our own hands: when the world is turned upside-down, we are only a few years removed from the Stone Age. An interesting premise, Director Fernando Meirelles is shooting in the dark as the narrative becomes bogged down and preachy, as people become mocking stereotypes to spout some aggrandized ideal or attitude to hammer away at our senses. Few characters act in a realistic or compassionate way as they plunge into madness too quickly and what remains is a cold sterile psychological experiment. The story is barely interesting when confined by razor wire, but then it breaks free into a citywide pandemic of almost laughable proportions. But César Charlone’s beautiful cinematography imbues the film with a vibrant urgency that heightens our senses and subtly portrays a reality in transition. The acting is mostly clichéd and overwrought, with a descent performance from Julianne Moore but terribly miscast (or poorly written) parts for Mark Ruffalo and especially Gael Garcia Bernal. BLINDNESS is a film that is better left unseen. (D)

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