Blind

Pasatiempo - - CONTENT -

BLIND, drama, not rated, in Nor­we­gian with sub­ti­tles, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 3.5 chiles

For most of us blessed with func­tional eye­sight, that sense is a ma­jor fac­tor teth­er­ing us to our con­cept of re­al­ity. The sud­den loss of sight, Nor­we­gian film­maker Eskil Vogt sug­gests, can leave a per­son un­moored.

In his el­e­gant and chal­leng­ing first fea­ture, Vogt presents us with In­grid (Ellen Dor­rit Petersen), a thir­ty­ish blonde who has re­cently gone blind. She still re­tains some vis­ual im­ages in her head, but as she laments in a voice-over, she fears she will soon lose even those “as the op­tic nerve withers.” She’s de­ter­mined to ex­er­cise her mem­ory to try to hold on to her sense of the vis­ual world for as long as she can.

But the blind­ness has dealt her morale a crip­pling blow — no “world­cham­pion blind lady,” like Au­drey Hep­burn’s char­ac­ter in the clas­sic thriller Wait Un­til Dark, for In­grid. De­spite the en­cour­ag­ing of her ar­chi­tect hus­band, Morten (Hen­rik Rafaelsen), to get out into the world, she re­mains a shut-in in their gleam­ing high-rise apart­ment.

And her imag­i­na­tion starts to get the bet­ter of her. She be­gins imag­in­ing, and writ­ing about, a cou­ple of sad lon­ers. One is Ei­nar (Mar­ius Kol­ben­stvedt), a heavy­set, pony­tailed in­ter­net porn ad­dict, com­pul­sive mas­tur­ba­tor, and peep­ing Tom. (A warn­ing for view­ers: There are brief but undi­luted clips of hard-core pornog­ra­phy in some of these scenes.) The other is a young Swedish im­mi­grant named Elin (Vera Vi­tali), the sin­gle mother of a child of about ten named Kim, who some­times ap­pears as a boy (Isak Niko­lai Møller), and at other times as a girl (Stella Kvam Young).

These two lon­ers, as in­di­cated above, are fig­ments of In­grid’s imag­i­na­tion, but it’s not al­ways easy for us, or for her, to tell. Her erotic sense is height­ened by her hand­i­cap. In one scene she un­dresses and presses her­self naked against the win­dow of her apart­ment high above the city, as if she were hav­ing sex with all of Oslo. In­grid wor­ries that her hus­band is los­ing in­ter­est in her, and only feels duty-bound to have oc­ca­sional sex with “a blind lady.” So in bed, as Morten taps on his lap­top and tells her he’s catch­ing up on some of­fice work, she “sees” him in fact en­gag­ing in tor­rid sex­ting with Elin, and later ar­rang­ing to meet her.

Morten and Ei­nar also run into each other, and dis­cover that they’re old friends from school. Their con­ver­sa­tion in a cof­fee shop is one of the film’s most in­trigu­ingly dis­con­cert­ing vi­su­als: Some­times the cof­fee shop is sta­tion­ary and traf­fic passes by out­side, at other times it seems to be a train rac­ing through the land­scape. But if this is all hap­pen­ing only in­side In­grid’s sight­less head, as it seems to be, it’s mind-bending, but it makes a per­verse kind of sense.

The blind­ness in Blind can no doubt be ex­tended as a sym­bol for a more far-reach­ing so­ci­etal con­di­tion. But it’s puz­zling enough as it is.

— Jonathan Richards

Vi­sion-eerie: Ellen Dor­rit Petersen

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