Blind (Norway, 2014) directed by eskil vogt


whatever category of filmmaking, aesthetic tradition, moral mission, narrative style (and the long etcetera of taglines that allow us to sort our cinematic experiences) that you throw this film into after watching it—you’ll have to make due with the lack of satisfaction as relates to accuracy. it’s all over the place without being disorganized, and that is a feature uniquely characteristic of great storytelling. in short: it’s a norwegian take on Rear Window (1954), spread neatly with the matte-pale colour palettes of scandinavian cinematographic realism—and dotted all over with a matter-of-fact yet obtusely surreal investigation of the subterranean contours of sexual perversion, and the kind of mature celebration of sexual fetishes that films like gaspar noe’s Love (2015) awkwardly (and fumblingly) portray.

the story is that of Ingrid (ellen dorrit petersen) who suffers a rapid onset of macular degeneration to the point of complete blindness. her life is thereafter confined to the apartment she shares with her well-meaning though nevertheless obstinate husband. just how much of the plot is a tour of the fabulous imaginarium of her mind or the equally convoluted happenings of the real characters around her—is the bizarre thought experiment this film engages and invites the viewer into. her blindness is a sort of macguffin around which the film’s absurdities remain cohesive, but it is much more an exploration of the magnificent expanse of her imagination than a lamentation of her limitations. And that is where this film excels Rear Window: she, though stranded in her flat, is the voice of a compelling narration that glides back and forth between the minuscule (a neighbour’s porn addiction, for example) to the national (the horrific 2011 attacks in norway). blindness is also a metaphorical description of the intricate brocade of influence between the four main characters living in close proximity to each other. they are to an almost comical degree oblivious to the extent which their lives, longings and fantasies, are intertwined. the brilliance of Blind is in the afterthought it inspires: whatever clairevoyant insight this film affords, comes by way of Ingrid—who, on account of her own incalculable complexities, distorts what is available to us as real/unreal. the marvelous effect of so imaginative a subjective experience was that, even after the credits have finished rolling, you might not be sure which characters were real and which were fabricated by the god-hand of Ingrid’s writer’s decree…

(vicinity of absurdity)———

this is the second acting performance i’ve seen by henrik rafaelsen who can be described, in abbreviation, as a poor-norwegian-man’s Monsieur Hulot—just as bumbling and foolish, but with an extra feature of awkwardness that is much more a recent phenomenon than jacques tati’s bygone hapless hero. The Almost Man (2013), which starred rafaelsen in the title character, was also my introduction to norwegian cinema, and with that film the feeling of having entered into a vicinity of absurdity was apparent right away—in the first five minutes in fact, and that feeling compounded exponentially in five minute intervals after that until the unravelling of an impossibly ridiculous (and brilliantly clever!) finale. the unique character of that film’s absurdity is its unravelling: not in drastic and obvious gestures but with understated volleys of the most awkward variations on otherwise perfectly normal social interactions. the result of which is, in it’s own way, a piercingly insightful social commentary on the modern masculine psyche and its often debilitating over-reliance on irony as a vector for communication:

Blind exists in that same vicinity of absurdity, and not only because rafaelson’s talent for gestures of indecision have been employed alongside another strong female character. unlike The Almost Man,  the absurdities of Blind are camouflaged in the quotidian obstacles that are expected of Ingrid’s disability. the twist and torture of this film is the magnitude of question marks in placed on the power dynamics someone in her position is usually depicted as a victim of. but aside from her sudden onset of vision loss, one would have to be paying very little attention to this film’s moral mission to cast Ingrid as a victim---that is very a special thing. and aside from the cringeworthy and ominous arpeggios in the film’s piano theme, there’s very little of a foreboding set-up all throughout: it’s one thing to entice absurdities for absurdities sake, and yet another to sit in a lukewarm murky puddle of the absurd without aiming for an exaggerated sense of grotesquerie. this film falls in the latter category inasmuch as it is (willfully) blind to the line(s) between the ‘normal’ and absurd.   

in summa summarum: i give this film 10.41 black guy on a bicycle out of 11 black guy on bicycle.