Blindness DVD Review

Cover Art 2/10 & Menus 7/10
This cover is the worst attempt at promoting a movie I have seen in a very long time. The images, the colors, the design, it’s all misleading and doesn’t do the movie any justice at all. It looks like a cheap B thriller, and that’s so very wrong. The menu is more in line with the theme of the movie. It’s mostly white with haunting images of a hand pressing from behind, along with simple navigation that only highlights when you select each word. Overall the package of this DVD is a total let down for the amazing story and film that’s inside the box.

Features: 7/10

  • Making Of Blindness Documentary – This is film, not just a promotional tool to show us some behind the scenes activities. I was almost as intrigued by the director, writer, and cinematographer as I was by the film itself. This feature should be used as the benchmark for all “making of” features in the future of DVD design.
  • Deleted Scenes – Nothing here would have added to the film. There are written introductions that explain why the pieces were cut from the final movie, which is a nice change of pace.

The Movie: 9/10
The way this movie was presented to me in the promotional phase of its life put a stamp in my mind that defined what I thought it would be. I know that’s not fair, but then again I suppose that’s what advertising and promotional campaigns are meant to do, inform, sell, brainwash. I was led to believe Blindness would be another “virus threatens humanity, tossed in with some intellectual and social commentary, topped off with a big star (Juliane Moore)”. That’s superficially accurate, but this movie is so much more it will be impossible for me to cram it all into my little overview here today.

We are introduced to a man in a car in the middle of traffic who suddenly goes blind. He ends up in an Ophthalmologist’s office at the end of the day only to be seen by Mark Ruffalo who is tired, puzzled by the man’s symptoms, and sends him to the ER.

We then meet the doctor’s wife, an unassuming, seemingly frustrated but brave face wife and the nature of their relationship is subtly revealed. This is the most impressive aspect of this movie for me. This woman, she’s a people pleaser. She’s trying hard to keep a smile on her face even though her marriage is dried up. She runs a home with a husband who is affectionate but distant, distracted and consistently ineffectual. The wife makes dinner, a homemade Tiramisu, hand whipped cream, and has a beautifully kept home. The husband quietly takes it for granted, assumes his role as “doctor making a living” and that’s their story.

This is the foundation for their whole relationship throughout the movie, but it’s demonstrated in so many diverse and fascinating ways, none of which could have been done any more beautifully by someone other than Moore and Rufalo. Their moments together are smooth, if need be, awkward, horrific, believable, heartbreaking, and frighteningly life like. From a deeply exhaled sigh and glance we understand the wife’s utter indignation, or frustration, or determination.

These aren’t the only excellent performances in the film. Everyone brings a gutsy kind of honesty to their parts. I know that sounds obnoxious, but it’s true, trust me on this one. It’s the kind of movie you feel as though the cast are spending a lot of time together behind the scenes, so their time on screen is comfortable when it needs to be, tense when it has to be, and all together refined in a way that’s either a complete and utter illusion, or a result of a bond that few movie sets give their casts these days.

The sets for Blindness are amazing to say the least. From the upscale home of the couple, to the institutional grotesqueness of the quarantined hospital where we spend a good portion of the movie, I was immersed in that world completely. It’s all tactile. I could smell the lemons on the dining room table, as much as I could smell the feces on the floor of the horrible holding areas of the infected.

The camera work brought the instability, the chaos, and the insanity even closer, sometimes in a very intimately cold way. This story depicts a “what if” tale of human choices and who we become under duress. Everyone is becoming infected with something that’s causing blindness. How does this degrade our social structures, our responsibilities to each other, our humanity? The directing, editing, and cinematography do as much to bring us closer to these questions as every other ingredient of the film.

The make up and costumes are brilliant. There is no hiding from the filth, the disgusting conditions these people are forced to live in, and their clothing, their faces, their hair, it’s all so touchable, so smellable. I felt uncomfortable in my own clean clothes in my clean home theater…that’s powerful image making folks.

The marriage of the doctor and his wife is challenged from the moment we meet them, so as he deals with his blindness and she copes with not being blind, it intensifies, but never feels like it will resolve itself. There is a distance between them that nothing will bridge. She is always making choices, making bold decisions, being brave or desperate or mobile. He tries to take charge, make order, be the leader of a hopeless situation, but his flaccid manner and habit of just being considered a leader through his position as a doctor does nothing. Their relationship bookends the story, where they begin and end. How we know them, who they were and who they become.

This film has scenes that are disturbing, powerful, eye-coveringly visceral. It’s intelligent, challenging, a bit snooty in a literary kind of way, even if we can all grasp the very obvious mirrors of our world, our ways. I love it. I want to go watch it again right now. Even though it wasn’t enjoyable, exactly, it was invigorating and such high quality that it calls for another chance to soak into my mind.

Audio & Video: 7/10
Miramax decided against a Blu-Ray version for this movie. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because it didn’t do that well at the box office, and that’s just how it goes these days with some DVD releases. This DVD is presented in 1.85:1 Anamorphic wide screen which is super detailed for a DVD release. The movie uses some stylistic overblown white and crushed black scenes throughout. This adds to the theme of the movie but never takes away from the transfer which I feel looks like the director intended it to.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is surprisingly good. There is a lot of dialog in the surround speakers during the hospital scenes and it often makes for a really disturbing haunting effect. Overall this is a excellent movie and fares well on DVD. It’s just a shame the theatrical release got delayed and the DVD was released with a whimper and not a bang.

Value: 8/10
I like this movie. I like the making of film that comes on the DVD. I wouldn’t pay more than 20 bucks for it, but then again I wouldn’t pay more than 20 for most movies. I do, however, want this movie in my collection so I think I could be persuaded to wait a little while, just until the price drops a few dollars.

Overall Score 8/10