Thursday, 2 April 2015

02 April, 2015: Blind (2014) ***

This is a movie quite unlike any other I have seen before. Norwegian writer/director Eskil Vogt makes full use of the unique qualities of cinema as a story telling medium to mess with your mind as he takes you inside the minds of three characters who are loners and outsiders in one way or another. Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Peterson) is newly blind. She is married to Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen) but her condition has forced her husband to the periphery of her life as her mind turns in on itself. She spends her days alone in an apartment she has never seen.  Elin (Vera Vitali) is a single mother who has recently moved to the area and has left all her friends behind. Again, this sense of isolation puts a strain on the only significant relationship in her life: her child whom she sees only at intervals. Einar (Marius Kolbenstvedt) is a complete loner and has no significant relationships, friends or family. He is addicted to porn, spies on Elin and despairs of ever feeling the touch of a real woman. The lives of these three characters intersect at various points but it is difficult to say how often and in what way because the line between fantasy and reality in this movie is not so much blurred as non-existent.

When we see a character with someone or doing something, we are never sure whether what we are looking at is reality, or imagined, or fantasy. Both are shot with same deadpan realism. Indeed we are left wondering whether anything we see cane be trusted to be the case – and maybe (and I only say ‘maybe’) that is the point of the movie: if we cannot trust what we see, we might as well be blind. Before her blindness the worlds of Ingrid as a middle-class wife of a professional and Einar the inadequate loner would have been as different as it is possible to be. But robbed of the crucial sense of sight, Ingrid becomes as lonely and self-absorbed as Einar. And as if to underline the point that seeing is not necessarily believing, Elin’s only child, Kim, is a boy in some scenes and a girl in others.

It’s a puzzling movie, and one that is difficult to make sense of (unless I am being very dense). But ultimately it holds your attention and is a debut which promises much for the future. Vogt understands the medium and how to use it. He is not afraid to use trickery to challenge our perceptions.

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