Top positive review
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Compelling what-if scenario
on 26 July 2009
From the moment this movie began to the final (ambiguous) scene, I was completely glued to my screen and gripped by the compelling narrative. I found the acting consistently excellent, the direction elegant & evocative and the whole experience surprisingly rewarding. There wasn't a moment when I felt the story might be descending into an arty, pompous, empty vehicle for snobbish actors; as many of the reviews & critical comments I'd read in the press had led me to believe might prove to be true.
It's been quite a while since I felt I could award five stars to a film without any hesitation, but `Blindness' was without doubt such a rare experience for me. As another reviewer has noted- this film is essentially an exploration of human nature and what impressed me most about the plot is that there's only one contrivance; which is the treatment of the afflicted by those who have yet to loose their sight. But as unlikely as I found the concept that the government would imprison victims of a mystery illness without access to medical treatment, limited food, no surveillance and no rule of law other than that which they implement themselves; the fascinating human interplay on display here more than compensated for that single clunky plot point. And, of course, this is absolutely essential to the plot; in order that the blind can be contained in a veritable human petri dish for the audience's pleasure and so for me was something that could easily be forgiven. Quite often with these types of movies where society descends into chaos allowing a microscopic examination of the human condition- the audience is forced to swallow a number of unlikely scenarios, but in my opinion the events in `Blindness' align eerily with how I suspect many of us might behave under the same conditions.
While pleasure might not be the best word to describe the viewer's reception of many of this film's unsettling themes (particularly due to some scenes where human flesh becomes a type of currency for inmates, as well as the taut atmosphere woven throughout by the director), in the final quarter of the movie the audience is rewarded by a number of comparatively uplifting scenes depicting the simple pleasures we take for granted that become precious when we're deprived of one of our senses, which is a balm for the soul after earlier uneasy events.
This is, without doubt, one of my top five favourite films of all time and by all accounts the book by Jose Saramago is even better, and so I'm really looking forward to reading that in the near future. Clearly the film divides more opinion than the novel, but for me at least, the adaptation showcases a completely satisfying what-if scenario that gave me more than a moment's pause for thought imagining how I might react in the same circumstances. Highly recommended.