In Blindness, the bleak new film from acclaimed director Fernando Meirelles (City of Men, The Constant Gardener), a major city is struck with an epidemic of "The White Sickness," a highly contagious disease that causes sudden loss of vision. Health officials react swiftly; within hours, hazmat-suited military personnel are quarantining infected individuals in a dilapidated sanitarium.
The afflicted are abandoned to cope with their blindness in utterly foreign, unsanitary surroundings. Conditions worsen, supplies dwindle, and violence escalates. Only one person is an eyewitness to the chaos—the wife (Julianne Moore) of an ophthalmologist (Mark Ruffalo) who has faked her own blindness in order to stay with (and help) her afflicted husband.
Blindness is based on a disturbing and promising premise, one that allows the filmmakers to comment on the response of authorities to crisis (think Hurricane Katrina) and ask important questions about the resiliency of social structures. What crimes will humans commit if no one can see them? What conventions of civility will dissolve in the absence of extrinsic authority? How quickly does the instinct for self-preservation obliterate more altruistic tendencies? And how blind are we to injustices going on all around us?
Unfortunately, Meirelles and screenwriter Don McKellar are in such a rush to explore these Big Picture questions that they overlook important details like plot and character development. The result is a stylistically and thematically self-conscious film that shows flashes of brilliance, but ultimately fails (quite spectacularly) to live up to its obvious promise.
Blindness is based on the celebrated novel by Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago. According to ...1