Blake Lively tack­les blind­ness in com­plex new lm role

Ac­tress took on chal­lenges of dis­abil­ity in All I See Is You

StarMetro Calgary - - MOVIES - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

To play a blind woman for her lat­est film role, Blake Lively took no short cuts into the dark­ness.

The 30-year-old ac­tress learned to use a walk­ing cane, wore opaque con­tact lenses off-cam­era to bet­ter un­der­stand her char­ac­ter and learned how to nav­i­gate the main set with­out her vi­sion.

“I wanted to know the ex­pe­ri­ence of fill­ing in the blanks in my head, learn­ing it and then open­ing my eyes and see­ing that, no mat­ter what I had in my head, it was so dif­fer­ent than I imag­ined,” she says.

Lively stars in All I See Is You, a dreamy, beau­ti­ful movie about a woman who lost her eye­sight as an ado­les­cent in a car accident but re­gains it through surgery in her 20s. She be­gins a pe­riod of self-dis­cov­ery, which threat­ens to up­end her life and mar­riage.

“That hap­pens in all re­la­tion­ships, where you’re in an es­tab­lished re­la­tion­ship and then you start to not see things,” says Lively. “This movie speaks to re­la­tion­ships, I think, whether we have the lit­eral blind­ness or it’s just fig­u­ra­tive.”

It’s the brain­child of direc­tor and co-writer Marc Forster, whose ca­reer in­cludes var­ied films such as World War Z, Quan­tum of So­lace, Monster’s Ball and The Kite Run­ner. In­spi­ra­tion for the new film came in one of the strangest places the shower.

Forster, who has al­ways ad­mired fine art painters, was search­ing for a story that could lend it­self to be­ing painted on­screen. “I pushed it aside be­cause I said, ‘OK, you’re a film­maker. You’re not a painter. You’re not a true artist. You’re just a vis­ual sto­ry­teller,’” he says. But one day in the shower, with soap cloud­ing his eyes, he re­al­ized he had a vis­ual tem­plate.

All I See Is You is cer­tainly arty, with scenes dec­o­rated with a blur of im­ages, bleed­ing colours and ab­stract sym­bols, even giv­ing phys­i­cal sen­sa­tions an in­tense vis­ual rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

Forster says he was try­ing to shake the Hol­ly­wood cookie-cut­ter ap­proach and re­cap­ture the feel of films from the 1970s, when char­ac­ter stud­ies and open-ended plots ruled. “Movies be­came more and more close-ended and they also had to tick ev­ery box emo­tion­ally for an au­di­ence,” he says.

In­deed, Forster’s film is hard to cat­e­go­rize — part mys­tery, part hor­ror, part a woman’s reawak­en­ing, part kalei­do­scopic jour­ney. He is very happy it can­not be pi­geon­holed.

“He’s cre­ated some­thing that I’ve never seen be­fore with the vi­su­als,” says Lively. “So it was re­ally just about tak­ing a leap of faith with him and trust­ing him and be­ing ex­cited by that jour­ney. But I think that if you even re­moved all of those vi­su­als from this movie, it still works and that’s what’s im­por­tant.”

The film also gave Lively, last seen in The Shal­lows, a meaty and com­plex role — though a chal­leng­ing one, too, since it cen­tres on a woman with a dis­abil­ity. She says she was sen­si­tive to mak­ing sure it was cor­rect.

“This isn’t rep­re­sen­ta­tive of any one per­son’s story. I was try­ing to take dif­fer­ent peo­ples’ ex­pe­ri­ences and be as hon­est as pos­si­ble,” she says. One per­son she leaned on to get her per­for­mance right was Ryan Knighton, a blind au­thor who taught Lively how the blind walk, move and even ar­gue. (The film­mak­ers hon­oured him by hav­ing Lively wear his sig­na­ture red-tinted glasses on­screen.)

Both Lively and Forster re­al­ize the film — fea­tur­ing a woman learn­ing to be strong and in­de­pen­dent — comes at a time when women na­tion­wide are talk­ing about their role in male­cen­tred busi­nesses and so­ci­ety.

“I think what’s hap­pened in this past year, since the elec­tion, is that women have re­ally stood up for them­selves. I think we re­al­ized how much fur­ther we had to go than we thought we did,” Lively says.

Fos­ter, for his part, hopes the film will re­mind peo­ple to open their eyes, see what’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing and make bet­ter choices.

“We, as hu­man­ity, ul­ti­mately have to re­ally wake up and be­come con­scious and start see­ing things,” he says. “Oth­er­wise, we’re go­ing to go down a path that will be un­re­turn­able.”

Blake Lively


Ja­son Clarke and Blake Lively in All I See Is You. Lively plays a blind woman who re­gains her sight.


Blake Lively

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