When Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) loses her sight, she will have to learn how to rely on her memory of the surroundings while sharing the appartment with her boyfriend Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen). But when you live in complete darkness, there’s more room in your mind for imagination to run wild.
With steady hand and a distinct voice Eskil Vogt wrote and directed his first feature length film. The central idea of one losing his/her sight has always been a strong basis to craft a story around, but the most famous/successful films that have done so, seemed always keen to place the concept in a thriller or horror environment. Remember American genre outings like ‘Blink’ (1994), ‘Jennifer 8′ (1992) and the Hong Kong original ‘The Eye’ (2002). Of course more films with blind protagonists have been made. Japan has their legacy of ‘Zatoichi’ films and other, more general drama efforts (and a documentary) are included in this nifty list of films with blind characters. But most of these are rather conventional pictures. Vogt not only steers his film clear away from the more thrilling genres, opting for a more dramatic approach, he also provides his screenplay with an unconventional narrative structure.
To unravel how it plays out, would be saying too much. But the way Vogt tells his story, feels akin to the way Charlie Kaufman writes his regular screenplays. Or you may perhaps even think about how Michael Haneke suddenly breaks with conventional film making in one particular scene of his original ‘Funny Games’ (1997). Vogt does similar things, starting with breaking the time/place continuity through his editing of a certain scene and further on having characters do and say unexpected, inexplicable things even. But rest assured, there is a reason and explanation for all this; one you don’t even have to wait for until the ending to figure out. It nonetheless cleverly injects the screenplay with an air of unpredictability which keeps the viewer engaged at all times. Clever, because this is a rather slow-moving film and one that can’t rely on thrills and action, like its aforementioned blinded brethren could.
Given Ingrid’s disability and how she deals with it, along with a couple of side characters having some serious issues, the film reveals its depressing nature at times. Yet Vogt also takes a more comedic approach to the matters on certain occasions. It’s a subtle balance between this dual nature, but Vogt walks it just fine, never going overboard either way. And near the end, when things threaten to derail for Ingrid, Vogt comes back with another swing making the film end on a quite positive note. Never shocking or too explicit (considering we’re even shown brief pornographic internet footage in one scene), Vogt does also flirt a lot with nudity in ‘Blind’, either in an artistic or comical manner. At one time even putting an ironically liberating spin on it in the scene where Ingrid takes of all her cloths and exposes herself against a window: while she cannot see herself naked anymore, she seems to let go of the idea that everybody else can.
The film is sprinkled with good dialogues, interesting interactions (in particular Ingrid & Morten’s bed room shenanigans) and simply some fine moments (like the scene where Ingrid puts on headphones and listens to Sonic Youth’s ‘Kool Thing’). Perhaps the finest accomplishment is that Vogt managed to tackle heavy themes like blindness, loneliness, distrust, apathy, ignorance and the burden of being disabled or deformed – the film features a scene with Eric Stoltz and Laura Dern from ‘Mask’ (1985) – in such a manner that they become lighter and more bearable, without ever turning to foolish optimism. Not an easy feat, and surely Thimios Bakatakis‘ cinematography helped evoke this general feeling. While never too colorful, there is an abundance of (sun) light in many scenes. Honest cinema that likes to pull your leg with its narrative; this is a great little worthwhile film to sit through.
Trailer on Vimeo.