‘I can still see in my dreams.’
Dreams are what Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) clings to, whether they are actually dreams or a new form of reality, in Eskil Vogt’s directorial début that offers a fascinating view of an alternative real world – genuine but different – as it appears to Ingrid. This is a contemporary world of internet pornography, on-line dating and visual information which Ingrid can only engage with through feeling or sound.
Ingrid lost her sight as an adult and her recollections of people, places and city life mean that she can visualise images, relationships and events whether they are happening, have happened or perhaps are just imaginary. She still uses a phone and computer with technological aid and can, if she is careful, make herself tea. Her husband Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen) has a job but because of both the physical and emotional changes that have occurred within their relationship, he has taken to internet dating and chat services. He lies to Ingrid about what he does when he leaves the house, meeting his on-line amour Elin (Vera Vitali). Elin is being watched by neighbour Einar (Marius Kolbenstvedt) who desperately wants not to be lonely and satisfies his desires on-line with his endless browsing of porn and fetish sites. Elin is happy to date Morten, even though she knows the relationship is adulterous. She does have a child with her ex-husband but rarely sees Kim (Stella Kvam Young/Isak Nikolai Møller) whether s/he be a boy or a girl. And matters take a turn for the bizarre as she appears to develop symptoms in Morten’s presence when they finally meet up, symptoms that seem all too familiar – the loss of her sight. With Ingrid restricted to residing inside her apartment, fearful of the outside environment, her imagination and perceptions of Morten’s activities become an integral part of her world. This is the story of isolation, grief, perception and relationships as a married couple face dilemmas and decisions in a world that appears very real, is very real but may not be perceived as such; whether that be the time in which it is perceived or its locations. Can the couple get any semblance of their old lives back and do they even want to?
Blind explores themes of loneliness and alienation from a number of protagonists’ perspectives, most notably Ingrid’s, as we learn – with her – how it is to live with being blind. But this is more than a simple drama – the characters’ stories intertwine and we see their relationships evolve. These are relationships that are mixed with unusual perceptions of reality and existence, for the protagonists and also for the viewer.
In trying to address the symptoms of her condition and her means of tackling life in a creative manner, the film refers to the case of Jean-Dominque Bauby, editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine whose writing using eye movement alone is so movingly recalled in Jean-Jacques Beineix’s documentary Locked-in Syndrome (Assigné à résidence, Jean-Jacques Beineix 1997) as Ingrid tries to use her own experiences to write and create, even as she detaches herself from that perception. Similarly, real world references to the Anders Breivik killings weave their way into the narrative as Einar discovers – just for a few days – that the shared outpouring of grief and solidarity amongst his fellow citizens provides relief from the loneliness that pervades his very existence. Emotions, hopes, fears, romance and sex combine to produce a whole that is not science-fiction or even science-reality but psychological assimilation as predefined reality.
Blind is brilliant and thoroughly compelling; a film for our time which raises numerous social questions but also looks at relationships and realities in a wholly individual and occasionally surreal context.