Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Canada/Brazil/Japan, 2008. Rhombus Media, O2 Filmes, Bee Vine Pictures, Alliance, Ancine, Asmik Ace Entertainment, BNDES, Cinema Investment, Corus Entertainment, Fox Filmes do Brasil, GAGA, Movie Central Network, Téléfilm Canada. Screenplay by Don McKellar, based on the novel Ensaio Sobre A Cegueira by Jose Saramago. Cinematography by Cesar Charlone. Produced by Andrea Barata Ribeiro, Niv Fichman, Sonoko Sakai. Music by Marco Antonio Guimaraes. Production Design by Matthew Davies, Tule Peak. Costume Design by Renee April. Film Editing by Daniel Rezende.
Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago’s bestselling novel reaches the big screen with mixed results. After a random driver succumbs to a case of instant blindness, his condition turns out to be an infectious disease that rages through his unnamed city and leaves its entire population without sight. The first large groups of afflicted persons are quarantined in a prison, including an eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) whose wife (Julianne Moore) seems to be unaffected by the illness. As it turns out, she’s the only member of the entire population who can see, and as such becomes her husband’s protector as they navigate a Lord Of The Flies-style microcosm in which survival turns on a dime. For its first two acts, Fernando Meirelles’ gorgeously shot drama is a work of art, slightly too melodramatic at times but impeccably paced and full of wonder and dread as the audience becomes plunged in the terrifying examination of the thin gauze that resides between human civilization and savagery. Then the concluding section comes along and ruins the entire experience: the film goes on too long and then ends hastily, as if screenwriter Don McKellar (who also has a small part in the film) had no idea how to end it. To prove this he includes narration that comes out of nowhere and only serves to remind us that we haven’t been watching a film, we’ve skimmed hastily through a novel whose premise is archly dramatic enough for cinema but whose plotting is too dense for the medium. For as long as it’s good it’s damn good, however, and Moore’s letter-perfect performance shows the incredible actress off in her best role since Far From Heaven.
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition
Toronto International Film Festival: 2008