Review: Blindness

There should be a rule against film adaptations of great literary works.

Title Blindness III
Director Fernando Meirelles
Starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover
Running Time 120 minutes

There should be a rule against film adaptations of great literary works. They never seem to live up to expectations.
Surely having such source material
should yield likewise quality films, yet this is rarely the case. In 1974, with a screenplay penned by Francis Ford Coppola,
The Great Gatsby was brought to the big screen with Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, and Bruce Dern as the lead actors.
Sounds good on paper, but the final product, while not a bad film, failed in comparison to the classic novel.
The trend in filmmaking today seems to be the desire to continually look backwards.

Half the movies made nowadays are remakes, sequels, or book adaptations.
Outside of a few interesting directors,
mainstream cinema seems to be stuck in a maelstrom of mediocrity with no end in sight. With Blindness, Fernando
Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) adapts Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s 1995 novel of the same name and the resulting product,
like 1974’s The Great Gatsby, is not a bad film, but rather bland and lacklustre when compared to the original text.
The opening of the film is oddly presented
through gross overacting as we are introduced to a mysterious epidemic,
a “white blindness”, which is passed through contact with infected individuals.

As you can imagine, the few cases of blindness quickly become a total outbreak before the government reacts by containing all infected persons in an abandoned mental institution. The film focuses on the unnamed “Doctor” (Mark Ruffalo), who loses sight after examining a contaminated patient, and his wife (Julianne Moore), who, for an unexplained reason, is immune to the epidemic. They are the first to be transported
to the containment area, and as the film spends most of its time inside the institution, we witness the deterioration
of morality and civilisation as more infected individuals arrive, with the loss of sight correlating to a loss of identity. A rivalry within the institution is sparked by the violent actions of the Ward Three inmates (led by Gael Garcia Bernal), who, after stealing all the food, demands jewellery and women from the other wards. This back and forth between
good and bad continues turgidly until it is revealed that the gates to the outside are open. The Doctor, his wife, and a small group of others make their way through the now apocalyptic city until reaching their house, where, after a few days, one man – the first to lose his sight – regains it, thus suggesting hope for the rest.

Blindness wants to be thought provoking,
but how can it be when the film doesn’t ask the audience any questions? All the film really does is make the viewer
ask when it will be over. Other than that, the film plods along and loses the quality that made Saramago’s novel brilliant.

Blindness feels much longer than its two-hour running time suggests. Perhaps
this is because of the plot’s predictability:

from almost the first scene you can anticipate what is to come. And, if this can be any sort of consolation to the viewer, you will most likely be right with your guesses.

Christopher Kelly