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Blindness

Allegorical thriller probes man's humanity

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A mysterious virus causes everyone to go blind in this thriller from Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), adapted from Nobel laureate José Saramago's allegorical 1995 novel. It's an ambitious project that doesn't make the grade. The first citizens stricken, including an eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) and his inexplicably still-sighted wife (Julianne Moore), are quarantined and forced to survive in increasingly fraught conditions. What Meirelles delivers is an intriguing but frequently uneven work that toggles between sci-fi-ish dystopian thriller, allegory and an adult update of Lord of the Flies. A good ensemble cast does its best with often trite dialogue, and Blindness finds its best grooves in the claustrophobic squalor of the internment facility. The allegory of man's inability to really see is simple enough to take away, as are the reminders that man in peril will both rush to the bottom and rise to the occasion. But Meirelles stumbles at the end, where the film's depiction of the re-generation of humanity feels inelegant and rote, at odds with the more atmospheric, downbeat nightmare that preceded it. In English, and some Japanese, with subtitles.

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