After an onslaught of splodey summer movies, we were excited for the movie version of Blindness, directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God). The adaptation Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago's novel takes place in the near future, where cities become ravaged with a mysterious outbreak of blindness. And the government carts the "sick" off to quarantined zones, where society degenerates into mob rule and petty dictators take over. But can Meirelles' adaptation live up to the masterful source material? Early reviews point to no, sadly.
Blindness was our best hope for a thoughtful future dystopian story after a deluge of mindless action films. It combines an interesting concept, a stellar cast and a promising director. I've been hoping that this movie would continue the Children of Men legacy of thoughtful scifi films (minus the whole CG baby incident). Alas, early reviews using terms like "misfire" and "failure" are breaking my heart. In particular, critics who saw the film at the Cannes Film Festival are howling over a terrible voice-over by Danny Glover among other downfalls. The Telegraph:
They [the cast] do well to save a film that, in trying so hard to be faithful to the novel, falls prey to tone-deafness.
[Danny Glover's] voice-over not only feels like it's taken directly from the book but actually pushes us away from contemplating the themes and scenes of the film. It's one thing to suggest that life's busy nature makes us all overlook the true nature of the world; it's another thing to hear Glover intone, during the film's initial moments, how "I don't think we went blind; I think we always were. ..." Leaving that insight, and others like it, unsaid might possibly leave us to contemplate it for ourselves; having those things spoken out loud just inspires derision.
The movie, I fear, is going to be generally "meh"-ed when it opens, and audiences are almost certainly going to steer clear....But the truth is that Blindness is more than a bit of a flub...For what it's worth, the pacing, performances and tech credits are first-rate.
I'm crossing my fingers, waiting for the film's release date of September 26, and hoping for the best. More stills at Rotten Tomatoes.