Fantastic Fest 2014: Blind
When a woman loses her sight, her anxieties come into view
By William Goss,
5:50PM, Sat. Sep. 20, 2014
Anyone familiar with Eskil Vogt’s previous screenplays for the somber dramas Reprise and Oslo, August 31st might walk into Blind expecting yet another despairing portrait of urban alienation.
Any newcomer would be excused for spending the first reel in anticipation of the latest intersecting-lives melodrama, as four seemingly unrelated Norwegians struggle with their individual social anxieties. Ingrid (Dorrit Petersen) is a newly blind thirtysomething author who spends most days confined to her apartment; Einar (Marius Kolbenstvedt) is a doughy loser with a weakness for hardcore porn; Elin (Vera Vitali) is a single mother coping with the shared custody of her daughter; and Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen) is an architect grappling with a stagnant marriage.
Rather than attempting to pull the rug out from under our feet (or, more fittingly, the wool over our eyes), Vogt makes it clear early on that Einar and Elin are figments of Ingrid’s imagination, and Morten is a more paranoid interpretation of her own husband. The story’s reflection of the wholly malleable nature of her work results in a refreshingly playful film that’s as much about one woman’s resourcefulness in the face of a newfound burden as it is about the everyday doubts that can cripple any individual, regardless of health.
Although Blind forfeits the viewer’s ability to invest in almost any character besides our lead, Petersen’s performance – defined by sensory and creative curiosity more than awards-baiting hysterics – is vulnerable enough to draw us into a narrative whose course is subject entirely to her emotional whims. These changes in setting and tone are then nimbly conveyed by each actor’s performance, every shot by cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis (Dogtooth), and every cut by editor Jens Christian Fodstad, giving the film a welcome sensation of continual reinvention while remaining grounded in relatable relationship concerns.
Reprise demonstrated a similar cleverness in its storytelling and melancholy in its characters, but rather than rehashing the uneasy balance between two post-grad egos, Vogt’s first feature as both writer and director counters potentially maudlin or conventional instincts to reveal how any isolated adult might best work through their own internal dilemmas with equal parts wariness and wit. Not to be too obvious about it, but Blind is proof enough that this is a filmmaker worth keeping an eye on.
Blind screens again Monday, Sept. 22, noon.