Review: ‘Blindness’

The ability not to see the obvious in both a literal and a metaphoric sense imbues the indie feature "Blindness" with dramatic potency. A tale of an injustice being corrected, this modestly produced debut feature doesn't quite have the twists or novelty to become a niche theatrical click. But with aggressive salesmanship, pic could find a sufficient groove on screens and in ancillaries to fuel the career of director and co-writer Anna Chi.

The ability not to see the obvious in both a literal and a metaphoric sense imbues the indie feature “Blindness” with dramatic potency. A tale of an injustice being corrected, this modestly produced debut feature doesn’t quite have the twists or novelty to become a niche theatrical click. But with aggressive salesmanship, pic could find a sufficient groove on screens and in ancillaries to fuel the career of director and co-writer Anna Chi.

Set in the home of the middle-class Hong family during one long night, the drama has a hermetic, but not claustrophobic, quality. Mrs. Hong (Lisa Lu), who is blind, wanders through rooms picking up the angry vibes of her daughter-in-law Natalie (Vivian Wu) and pretending that nothing is amiss. It is a cold environment in which son Daniel (Chin Han), a doctor, has turned off his emotions as a means of coping with these intense women.

On this particular evening, the chill is broken by the arrival of an intruder brandishing a gun. Patrick (Joe Lando), formerly Daniel’s best friend and Natalie’s lover, has been in jail 10 years for the murder of his parents. He’s returned to reveal the truth, telling Natalie that his father’s dying words fingered Hong, his business partner, for his death. He’s devastated to learn that Hong has died.

Essentially a drawing-room piece, “Blindness” slowly evolves as each of the principals confronts a dormant secret from the past. Though the story has mystery-thriller trappings, the whodunit elements are much less interesting than the dynamics of unfinished business in the personal relationships.

Rico Sands’ camerawork cloaks the film in a veil of darkness that enhances the feeling of confinement and impending danger. Even the dramatic reversals come across as deliberate and predestined. The ensemble cast brings a quiet resolve to the stifling atmosphere and brings a sense of tragedy and poignancy to the film’s conclusion.

Blindness

(DRAMA)

Production

A Park Avenue production. Produced by Karen Koch. Executive producers, Federico Faggin, Anna Chi. Directed by Anna Chi. Screenplay, Jared Rappaport, Chi.

Crew

Camera (color), Rico Sands; editors, Brian Johnson, Michael A. Stevenson; music, Mark Governor; production designer, Gary Myers; costume designer, Joseph Porro; assistant director, Liz Goodman. Reviewed at Hollywood Film Festival, Aug. 9, 1998. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Natalie ..... Vivian Wu Patrick ..... Joe Lando Mrs. Hong ..... Lisa Lu Daniel Hong ..... Chin Han
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