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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Blindness (review)

With films like City of God and The Constant Gardener, filmmaker Fernando Meirelles took the brutal and the base and flipped it around and threw it back to us swathed in a fierce, delicate beauty, as if to say: “Look at how the ugliness of humanity makes us special.” Which is a distressing thing to hear. He does it again with this unnerving trill on the classic sci-fi disaster movie: think an arthouse Day of the Triffids. One by one, everyone in an anonymous Everycity is going blind; fearing infection, government officials quarantine the first victims, which is where we linger with a group of equally anonymous everyfolk — a doctor (Mark Ruffalo: Reservation Road), his wife (Julianne Moore: I’m Not There), and others — as their microcosm of society collapses into savagery. Powerful enough would be watching the cracking of the eggshell-fragile connections between strangers — and the forging of new ones — but Meirelles also challenges what it means to “watch” a movie, when he puts us inside the terrifying experience of the newly blind. Some movies are hard to watch; this one, at times, is hard to listen to.


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MPAA: rated R for violence including sexual assaults, language and sexuality/nudity

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer

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