BLINDNESS (Fernando Meirelles)

I have been on a wild goose change scouring for the Nobel-prize winning novel by Jose Saramago on which this movie was based. I haven't found a copy yet.

The movie was very thought-provoking that I was compelled to buy the book; Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal give powerful performances in this stylistic adaptation, as well as Maury Chaykin who plays The Accountant.

The story is about the disease called "White Sickness" which makes people go blind, seeing only pure white instead of total darkness. At first it was a single person, then eventually everybody had it.

Julianne Moore, who plays the wife of a doctor (Mark Ruffalo) is the only one who was unaffected by the plague. As they were rehabilitated in a rundown mental facility, she keeps her gift of sight a secret as she guides the people in a makeshift existence.

It wasn't soon before people went down to their most basic instincts, such as survival and libido; one group of people claims supremacy, eventually imposing a "Monarchy" and a "King of Ward Three". That king is The Bartender (Gael Garcia Bernal) who tyrannically rules the facility.

While seemingly boring and confusing at first, BLINDNESS gets meaty round the second half;  there is a shocking scene reminiscent of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines (if you are a Filipino I don't need to spell it out for you) and a visually arresting backdrop of a ramshackle city much like the opening sequence of 28 Days Later. As soon as the second half kicks in, the pacing moves at breakneck, and poignantly heavy pace.

BLINDNESS' strength lies in its metaphor; Meirelles did not feel the need to overanalyze or oversimplify the film's premise; there were no attempts at explanation, as probably Saramago intended in his book. The fact that we are able to think of multiple reasons what caused the blindness is testament that the film challenges us to see beyond what is present.

The ending was most unexpected, and packs a big punch to your neurons.



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