sat 24/10/2020

Blind | reviews, news & interviews

Blind

Blind

Strong lead carries Norwegian depiction of the inner worlds surfacing after the onset of blindness

As Ingrid in 'Blind', Ellen Dorrit Petersen imagines new worlds

How would a sighted adult react to becoming blind? What would their anxieties be? How would they construct their new world? Could they construct one? All these questions are central to the Norwegian film Blind. Ingrid can no longer see and is attempting to find her way anew without sight.

How would a sighted adult react to becoming blind? What would their anxieties be? How would they construct their new world? Could they construct one? All these questions are central to the Norwegian film Blind. Ingrid can no longer see and is attempting to find her way anew without sight.

Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen, who last cropped up on theartsdesk in King of Devil’s Island) is in her '30s and lives in Oslo with her husband Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen, pictured below right with Petersen). Recently blind, she has chosen to stay within the womb of their apartment. While Morten is out at work, Ingrid creates an internal world populated by characters who may be made up. They may also be figures from her own life.

Blind Ingrid Ellen Dorrit Petersen Morten Henrik Rafaelsenin these imaginings, Elin (the Swedish actor Vera Vitali, pictured below left) is Ingrid’s analogue for herself. Einar (the playwright and theatre director Marius Kolbenstvedt in his first acting role) is a lonely schlub who spends his time looking at porn on the internet and, Rear Window-style, peering in on near-neighbour and Swedish transplant Elin. She has a child, but her marriage is over. Ingrid’s narrative for Einar has him show “sides of himself he had no idea existed, weird perversions he couldn’t possibly share with anyone”. His inherent nerdiness is telegraphed, a bit lazily, by a familiarity with Star Trek. He engineers his movements so he can meet Elin. Morten though is brought into this world as Einar’s friend. Elin and Morten begin an affair. She also goes blind.

All the while, Ingrid remains in the apartment and resists Morten’s entreaties to engage with the outside world. He comments “of course I get that it must feel weird to be sucked off by a blind woman. Even if you’re married to her.” His real inner life – as opposed to Ingrid’s dreamed-up version – is partly revealed, yet the film is about her worldview. She is afraid he will leave her.

Although Ingrid is concerned with not wanting to forget the form and colours of the physical world, her main focus is on the sexual and whether her husband will still find her attractive. In a needless scene, she takes off her clothes and stands naked, pressed against a window. She cannot see the world, but the world may see her. It's a trifle heavy-handed and, like a couple of other scenes, a little prurient.

Blind Elin Vera VitaliThe first-time director is Eskil Vogt, previously the screenwriter on Joachim Trier’s striking Oslo, August 31st. The cinematographer is Greece’s Thimios Bakatakis, who worked on both Attenberg and Dogtooth. The music is by Henk Hofstede, formerly of Dutch band The Nits. The international perspective which has brought Blind to the screen is mirrored by the film itself – although set in Oslo, it could have been set in any city.

As well as fantasy and reality, there is narrative and meta-narrative. The balance between the mulitple levels generally works without one cancelling another out. Blind is cleverly conceived and has won praise on the festival circuit. But it is hard to warm to. Despite moments of humour and Petersen's convincing inhabitation of Ingrid, it evinces the deliberateness of an exercise.

Petersen carries the film. In fact she and the strength she brings are the film. If you need a reason to see the intriguing Blind, Ellen Dorrit Petersen provides it.

'Blind' is cleverly conceived but hard to warm to

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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