Monday, May 19, 2008

Day 3 at Cannes

The strongest impression at the halfway point in Cannes is the extraordinary filmmaking talent from all over the place, especially, so far, from south of the United States.

For example number one, Mexican director Fernando Mierelles does Blindness, and he pulls it off--rather to well, in fact, for this is a agonizingly dystopic story of the world gone blind, literally so, person by person, one by one.  A mysterious malady afflicts everyone sooner or later, or so it would seem.  Strangely, this blindness is not darkness but white light, a milky white, the experience and look of which Mierelles conjures up with stunning visual force.  And, in some irony, the part that goes darker is the human self, for the world turns darkly barbaric:  everything stops, wrecks, and just falls apart, including the fabric of the sure thing we call civilization.  When the least disruption to normaly typically brings us all to mild panic, think about this one.

The first fraying occurs when the first victims are made exiles, as in Lost, sort of, only without vision and not on a lush island, but in abandoned prisons and hospitals and left to fend for themselves, no one wishing to near for risk of infection.  A health gestapo rounds up the stricken and throws away the key, giving them barely enough to eat and letting them run themselves in a horrific game of existential Blind Man's Bluff (women and children too, actually).

Things do not go well inside and out.  And that Mierelles displays with uncomfortable honesty and immediacy, for violent predatory anarchy ensues--everywhere (this version of the film is supposedly a tamed down one; given that, I think I might pass on a Director's Cut on DVD).  And while graphic and haunting, Mierelles does not pander the sensational or lurid, for what happens we know darn well is all too possible, and it is neither diverting nor exciting in this very real horror flick.

Through all of this does come hope, in spite of it all, or because of it all.  How deep or trustworthy that is, well, each viewer will have to assess deep in their soul's own reckoning.  In this regard, the film resembles a number of other offerings that end with inconclusiveness, leaving questions that puzzle and gnaw, as maybe good art should. 

More later on those, and on Cannes the event.

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