True love really is blind in Tamar van den Dop’s Victorian era fairy tale about the relationship of a fierce sightless youth and his equally strong willed albino companion. Combining the unhinged romanticism of “Wuthering Heights” with leitmotifs from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” overwrought “Blind” frequently over-reaches, but nevertheless reps a confidant calling card for the debuting Dutch feature helmer. Ambitious production — which also serves as an ode to storytelling and imagination — won’t be to all tastes, but should see further fest play before winding up in niche arthouse and b’cast.
Pic’s initial winter landscapes serve as a metaphor for the frozen state of its main characters whose icy defenses are eventually melted by love.
Ruben (handsome Joren Seldeslachts), who is blind, lives in a dilapidated manor with his invalid mother (Katelijne Verbeke) and constantly rages over his disability. Hired to read to him, mysterious Marie (Halina Reijn) bears the inner and outer marks of childhood traumas. She prefers not to be seen, and certainly not to be touched.
Soothed by Marie’s serene voice which sparks his desire, curious Ruben yearns to explore her with his other senses. She’s resistant, but ultimately won over when he compares her scars to frost flowers on the window.
When a doctor (Jan Decleir) arranges an operation to restore Ruben’s vision, Marie faces a difficult decision. Should she remain the beauty he sees in his mind or face rejection when he sees her true appearance?
Story feels as if takes a few wrong turns after the operation, particularly with Ruben’s search for Marie in a brothel. Leading perfs are uneven, occasionally O.T.T. or falling into modern rhythms, but polished tech package makes pic a sensual experience.