You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Blind Revenge

Completed before 2010's "Mysteries of Lisbon" but only now arriving Stateside, the late Raul Ruiz's "Blind Revenge" reps an interesting case of one of cinema's most distinctive filmmakers functioning in a commercial vein, and not shorting fans of his signature style and obsessions.

With: Tom Conti, Daryl Hannah, Miriam Margolyes, Elaine Paige, Simon MacCorkindale.

Completed before 2010’s “Mysteries of Lisbon” but only now arriving Stateside, the late Raul Ruiz’s “Blind Revenge” reps an interesting case of one of cinema’s most distinctive filmmakers functioning in a commercial vein, and not shorting fans of his signature style and obsessions. Gilbert Adair’s adaptation of his novel “A Closed Book” pits a blind art critic against his amanuensis in his English castle, but the resulting game of cat-and-mouse will make more noise in ancillary than in this limited theatrical window.

This is minor Ruiz, but an essential title for completists, as well as those who may be curious what Daryl Hannah and the great but rarely seen Tom Conti have been up to recently. The combo of these three talents seems odd on paper, but for the most part, it works.

Ruiz and Conti are particularly in synch as they craft the character of a memorably contradictory and colorful writer, Paul, who’s willfully isolated himself from modern civilization after being blinded and badly scarred in a car crash in Thailand (Steve Painter’s prosthetics create a startling effect). Paul is close cousin to innumerable Ruiz characters, some of them intensely, even madly literary, and Adair’s sense of the gothic similarly lines up well with Ruiz’s long-standing love of the genre.

Paul’s initial interview with Jane (Hannah), applying for a secretary job, is cunningly shot and paced, almost Pinteresque in its mood of domestic danger. Yet the bar here isn’t quite that high, and Adair’s writing functions more in the manner of Anthony Shaffer’s “Sleuth” or Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap” as a mind game develops, with the requisite role-reversal device: It becomes all too obvious that Jane isn’t here just to help write Paul’s final art book. Adair’s two-hander lacks Shaffer’s wicked sense of humor and fun, but Ruiz pushes things as far as he can with plenty of surreal oddities, including Paul’s knack for walking down a staircase backward.

Just before lensing this pic, Ruiz had made another mansion-set gothic, “Nuncigen House,” and that distinctly uncommercial film’s sense of characters being swallowed up by a physical space is clearly in evidence here. As the camera (Ricardo Aronovitch did the superb HD lensing) increasingly floats above Paul and Jane, and the third-act tension rises, Ruiz injects a sense of ghostliness into what might otherwise have been a routine psychothriller.

Conti and Hannah don’t always click, and Hannah sometimes appears out of sorts, perhaps a little lost. Still, she makes her Jane a frightening creature all the same, if only because it’s unclear what she’ll do next. Thesps Miriam Margolyes and Elaine Paige make every moment of their brief, often funny appearances count, as does Simon MacCorkindale as Paul’s literary agent.

Tech departments fire on all cylinders, showing what Ruiz could do on a slightly bigger budget than he was accustomed to. His wife, Valeria Sarmiento, is credited as one of pic’s three editors, and cutting is smooth and effective. Ruiz’s usual composer, Jorge Arriagada, is sorely missed here, given the soundtrack’s shoddy score credited to something called Extreme Music.

Under the novel’s title, the pic was released straight-to-DVD in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand in February 2010, following its 2009 Cannes market premiere. Ruiz’ first name in credits is given his seldom-used, non-Spanish spelling of Raoul, possibly due to the pic’s Brit identity.

Popular on Variety

Blind Revenge


Production: A Cinema Epoch release of an Eyeline Entertainment presentation. Produced by Tom Kinninmont, Nick Napier-Bell, Duncan Napier-Bell, Romain Schroeder, Tom Reeve.  Executive producers, Andrew Somper, Richard Charles. Directed by Raul Ruiz. Screenplay, Gilbert Adair, based on the novel "An Open Book" by Adair.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Ricardo Aronovitch; editors, Valeria Sarmiento, Adrian Murray, Sean Barton; music, Extreme Music; production designer, Keith Slote; art director, John McHugh ; costume designer, Kate O'Farrell; sound (Dolby Digital), Dudley Houlden; supervising sound editor, Mike Grimes; re-recording mixer, Robin Fellows; visual effects supervisor, JP Davidson; prosthetics, Steve Painter; assistant director, Richard Bird; casting, Sue Jones. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, July 12, 2012. (In 2009 Cannes Film Festival -- market.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With: With: Tom Conti, Daryl Hannah, Miriam Margolyes, Elaine Paige, Simon MacCorkindale.

More Film

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • (from left) Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)

    Box Office: 'Hobbs & Shaw' Scores $102 Million Debut in China, Nears $600 Million Globally

    Universal’s “Hobbs & Shaw” returned to first place on the international box office charts, thanks to a massive $102 million debut in China. The “Fast & Furious” spinoff, starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, collected another $120 million overseas, boosting its foreign tally to $441 million. “Hobbs & Shaw” is nearing the $600 million mark [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    Box Office: 'Angel Has Fallen' Rises to No. 1 With $21 Million Debut

    “Angel Has Fallen,” the third chapter in Lionsgate and Millenium’s action franchise starring Gerard Butler, had a stronger opening weekend than expected, collecting $21.25 million during its first three days of release. Those ticket sales were enough to top domestic box office charts, bumping last weekend’s champ, Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” to second place. Starring [...]

  • Amanda

    ‘Amanda’ Takes Home Best Int’l Film at 15th Sanfic

    SANTIAGO, Chile    French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern [...]

  • disney d23

    Cruella, Kit Harington and Black Panther's Return: Everything We Learned at D23 Day Two

    Not to be outdone by the avalanche of series orders and casting announcements bolstering the new streaming series Disney Plus, Walt Disney Studios showed off its film wares in a marathon presentation at D23 on Saturday. The Anaheim, Calif. expo brought star power, if perhaps fewer surprises than Friday’s presentation, as fans in princess and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content