Without You

The psychology of blindness comes under scrutiny in Raimon Masllorens' "Without You," a sensitively-crafted, sometimes enlightening drama whose admirable avoidance of standard sentiment nonetheless leaves it looking under-dramatized. Fest play looks likely.

With:
With: Ana Fernandez, Pep Munne, Carolina Pfaffenbauer, Quim Gutierrez, Clara Segura, Josep Julian, Marina Salas, Jacobo Zoe. (Spanish, Catalan dialogue)

The psychology of blindness comes under scrutiny in Raimon Masllorens’ “Without You,” a sensitively-crafted, sometimes enlightening drama whose admirable avoidance of standard sentiment nonetheless leaves it looking under-dramatized. Starring Ana Fernandez, a thesp who thrives on such edgy roles, as a woman whose life suddenly collapses as those around her look on in despair, pic is adult-oriented fare whose fidelity to emotional truth is admirable, but exclusive focus on the protag means much of the background is a dramatic blur. Fest play looks likely.

Lucia (Fernandez) is a well-to-do amateur artist and mother of two (Marina Salas and Jacobo Zoe), married to Toni (Pep Munne). She falls in the shower one day and goes blind (the “you” of the title is Lucia’s eyesight).

Far from kicking straight into the expected tale of Lucia’s heroic struggle with her new condition, pic instead dedicates its early reels to her crushing desperation.

Pic shows the effect of Lucia’s blindness on her family, too, with teenage daughter Alba resentful that her mother is now a pathetic figure.

Script reserves its one supercharged surprise for later, but when it comes, there’s no follow-through.

Dialogue sometimes teeters into the pretentious, and Lucia’s self-pity, though credible, becomes wearing. Fernandez, who is solid and credible throughout in a demanding role as a woman who simply does not have the emotional resources or experience to deal with what has happened to her. Though her simpering manner starts to grate, her unheroic reaction to her blindness works in her favor.

The exclusive focus on Lucia leaves the other characters, each struggling to accommodate her blindness, as little more than background.

A variety of lensing techniques dramatize Lucia’s new condition with varying degrees of success, low lighting dominating the early scenes before giving way to brighter tones as Lucia starts coming to terms with her condition.

Set design, featuring the modernist architecture of Barcelona, keeps with the generally slick aesthetics, while Jaume Melendez’s attentive sound work is appropriate to the subject. Attractive, guitar-based score is discreet.

Without You

Spain

Production: A Notro Films release of a La Productora/Bausan Films production. (International sales: Notro Films, Madrid). Produced by Raimon Masllorens, Loris Omedes. Directed by Raimon Masllorens. Screenplay, Alicia Luna, Pau Garsaball.

Crew: Camera (color), Mimmo Pizzigallo; editor, Oriol Carbonell; music, Jordi Nogueras; art director, Oriol Puig; sound (Dolby), Jaume Melendez. Reviewed at Malaga Film Festival, competing, March 24, 2006. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: With: Ana Fernandez, Pep Munne, Carolina Pfaffenbauer, Quim Gutierrez, Clara Segura, Josep Julian, Marina Salas, Jacobo Zoe. (Spanish, Catalan dialogue)

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