Director: Fernando Mereilles
Starring: Julianne Moore
‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King’ – or so the saying goes. Highly regarded Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ adaptation of Saramago’s novel explores this concept: in a sudden pandemic, an incurable blindness sweeps across the globe, and only one woman (Julianne Moore) escapes it. As the blind are quarantined, she feigns blindness in order to stay with her husband (Mark Ruffalo), and as civilisation breaks down within this segregated populace, her tenacity is tested.
The transition from page to screen is generally smooth. McKellar’s screenplay strikes a successful balance between avoiding the humdrum of daily life and remaining grounded in grim reality. The film’s gritty edge, however, is both its Pièce de résistance and its Achilles heel. Where the book relies on a reader’s metaphorical blindness to empathise with disorientation, the film must rely on cinematography to achieve the same effect. Though Charlone’s equivocal and bold use of murky shadow, and fade in/out achieves this excellently, over the length of the film it becomes a little trying and tiresome.
Whilst showcasing the high production quality expected from a Hollywood film, Blindness displays is no easy watch. Never one to shy away from difficult issues, Moreilles’ film earns its 18 certificate. Human cruelty is frankly explored. Though worth seeing, Blindness is unlikely to share the reputation or award success of Meirelles’ previous highly acclaimed films, including City of God, City of Men and El Baño de Papa.