Blindness (2008) • USA • Fernando Meirelles

This is one of those high art films, like The Happening with its blatant comedic satire nobody got, that is bound to go over the heads of all but the more sophisticated moviegoers of "Brazil and other European countries." The logic behind its greatness is this:

Blindness, the film, is based on the 1995 book Ensaio sobre a Cegueira. The book’s author, José de Sousa Saramago, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998.
Ergo #1: it is a good book.

Saramago was reluctant to sell the book’s movie rights, fearing a film would do an injustice to his work, but eventually acquiesced (not to the highest bidder, mind you) because he felt this group, with Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles at the helm, understood his vision, and their proposed treatment captured the essence of his book.
Ergo #2: it’s a good movie.

Many a defense of the film has shouted “If you don’t like this movie, read the book and you will!” Stunning and incisive, that. I haven’t read the book so my reaction to Blindness, the film, is based on the sub par experience of merely watching the movie. Little things like the fact that not one actor in this film acted in such a way as to convince me that they might be blind should matter.

Blindness is a story about a society where everyone except the star goes blind. It focuses on a group that is quarantined in a well-lit, ahem, but over-crowded asylum. Conditions degrade very quickly and chaos ensues. It's horrific.

I went to see this film knowing nothing about it. I had seen the director’s earlier film City of God and thought it was magnificent. I liked the movie poster and I’m a big Julianne Moore fan. She’s very good in the film. She's the only one who is not blind and at one point, while showering in a room full of blind people, she is the first and only one to hear the faint sounds of a radio being played in another room. That’s good acting! It would be wrong to object to the unlikelihood of this by invoking the prejudice that blind people develop a heightened sense of hearing, the same bigotry that doesn’t know blind people walk around naked and shit on the floor—like they do in this faithful filmic adaptation of a book.

The Blindness in this film, however, is a special Blindness. Everything doesn’t go black, it goes white. It’s an allegory. The director attempts to recreate this experience for the viewing audience by washing out the film to a milky white blur which is fine in concept but its execution seems entirely random—to the point of directorial conceit. Like when the husband and the hooker, who share a bond the husband can't enjoy with his wife (she's not blind), are having sex, we watch them through the milky white blur. Why? Because it’s the European thing to do. There will be gratuitous sex and the wife will understand.

Before the big gang rape scene, there is a scene where the really bad guy, the guy who conveniently found a loaded weapon and proclaimed himself “King”, is barking orders at everyone. Julianne’s character heckles him and he snaps “I will never forget your voice” while pointing the gun at her. Blind people have an acute sense of hearing and can do that. But just before Julianne sucks his dick in the big rape scene, she talks to him face to face and he seems to have forgotten the sound of her voice. If it seems confusing as to why Julianne’s character would go through the humiliation of all the women being raped, one fatally, before using her meager advantage of sight to kill this guy, remember, rape is the only reason a woman will kill. Anything less than that, up to and including the mere threat of rape at gunpoint, and she will just suffer.

And you should too. Pay no attention to the improbabilities, the bad acting, the cringe worthy dialog, the pompous and misogynist screenplay and direction, or the ridiculously campy 360 which results in a profound and happy ending. The film is an allegory based on a novel. It’s very trés trés. Fork out your ten bux and enjoy this piece of filth. It’s the sophisticated thing to do.


  1. I laughed out loud all the way through this brilliant review. I now feel that I have accomplished some helpful exercise since the laughing has caused my abs to contract. Thanks for the workout.

    This is your funniest review so far. Maybe your best writing. If I hadn't seen the film I just might be tempted. I'd be tres tres intrigued to see if I laughed this hard watching this film. Great bad review. Thanks for the fun. And yes, it's true, you had to read the book to like this film. This may be a first, since usually it's the other way around. If I've read a book that I loved it's unusual that I like the movie made from a great book. But, honestly, I'm now embarrassed to admit, I liked this film a lot. Don't ask me why. You already have the answer.

  2. Thanks, I write these for you, ya know. I don't like to call them reviews, though.

    I'm trying to own the writing style of a 13 year old girl. That was the nicest thing you ever said to me.

  3. Geez. First you tell me not to read anything about Blindness. Then you begin your Blindness review by using The Happening and high art in the same sentence. Thus, I am forced to skim through enough of your review to figure out you're being ironic. Is this thing downloadable yet?

  4. Ironic? No ...

    I figured that first sentence was the give-away.

  5. Alright, so I watched Blindness. And yeah, it was bad. Not quite as bad as The Happening, but The Happening at least had all that unintentional comedy going for it, while Blindness seemed determined to be no fun whatsoever. I think my main problem with it was the lead character's conspicuously absent motivation. I could not, for the life of me, understand why Julianne Moore's character made any major decision that she made in the film. She stays with her husband and pretends she's blind out of (loyalty? love?) and then continues to keep her sight a secret as (weeks? months?) elapse. Why? As a doctor (a doctor who instantly recognizes that the blindness is spreading like a disease) Mark Ruffalo should have been fairly persistent that his wife submit herself for medical study, because (duh) she probably carries some sort of immunity gene. He doesn't. He eventually complains that he feels emasculated because she's taking care of him. His male pride is more of an issue to him than possibly saving the human race. Julianne Moore continues to pretend she's blind for no good reason, even as people start walking around naked in human feces, even when Gabriel Garcia Bernal decides to take over and run the show like a fascist dictator. At any given moment she could have clobbered him over the head with something and taken his gun, since you know, she can see... but nope, she decides to let two gang rapes (?) pass before straight up killing the guy. I still think she could have acted more decisively and effectively within 30 seconds of "The King" attempting to take control of the institution, without having to kill anyone. Strangely, no one gives her any shit for keeping her blindness a secret and letting dozens of women get raped (not to mention all the asses that I'm sure went unwiped over the months) for no good reason. I mean granted, a lot of them didn't seem as bothered as I assume they would be about the whole rape thing (?) but I expected them to be pretty pissed once they found out they could have been spared the whole ordeal had Julianne Moore not acted like a total clod. The ending was also completely ridiculous. Children of Men this isn't, mainly because people behave in a way that makes absolutely no sense, in order to hammer home the theme that people are basically shit.