Did any of you ever see Roman Polanski's Repulsion? In the process of telling the story of one woman's descent into utter madness, the movie subjects viewers to a disturbing and nerve-jangling experience that makes them feel as if they themselves were going insane. I sat through Repulsion in the confines of a film class in college—I wanted to beat the professor senseless, and I will never see that goddamn movie again. Now that's not to say it's not a good film. It is.
Don McKellar and Fernando Meirelles's Blindness, based on the novel by José Saramago, reminded me a lot of Repulsion. Blindness, which tells the story of a kind of apocalypse brought about through a worldwide epidemic of sudden blindness, deals in the art of cinematic disorientation. Director Meirelles, whose hyperkinetic City of God made me feel like what I imagine being on cocaine is like, not only wants you to experience the panic and confusion of spontaneous blindness but also the visceral shock and awe of the entire world sinking into the depths of hopelessness, despair, violence, and inhumanity. He achieves this with camera tricks, fades-to-white, lots of darkness, moments of oversaturation, out-of-focus shots, funky scene transitions, etc.
Blindness, which really can be described as a horror film, is very accomplished, assaulting your senses with its wicked ways and dripping in allegory to keep your intellect in play—but I never want to see it again and I would never recommend it to anyone. A strange dichotomy, huh?:
And is it me, or are non-Americans like Meirelles the only ones using allegory to great effect these days in cinema? Have Americans lost this style—or have they never been good at in the first place?