Eye For Film >> Movies >> Blind Loves (2008) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
What is life like for people who lack sight? It's a question which has long fascinated filmmakers and has inspired many different pieces of work, from crime thrillers and science fiction stories to sympathetic dramas and documentaries. Rarely, though, does a film about blind people show much empathy, and rarely are blind people involved in its production - they tend, instead, to be studied from a distance, objectified. Juraj Lehotský's Blind Loves is a rare exception, which not only succeeds in describing the world as blind people really experience it but, in so doing, presents the sighted viewer with a fascinating insight into a different way of living.
Lehotský's particular interest is in finding out how blind and visually impaired people find love and form relationships, a topic which cannot be addressed without acknowledging his subjects' agency. He introduces us to Peter, a music teacher whose wife is also blind and who dreams of a fairytale world under the sea; to Miro, who is trying to make a relationship work despite his girlfriend's parents prejudice (they don't like him because he's Roma); to Elena and Laco, nervous parents-to-be; and to teenager Zuzanna, who is looking for love online.
There are no straight-to-camera monologues - rather, we see these people going about their day to day lives, musing to themselves, talking to one another, enjoying warm sunny days and the beauty of a world seen through fingertips. Peter's dream is realised in fantastic animation reminiscent of the work of Terry Gilliam. Often scenes are shot in the dark, as the film's subjects have no need to turn lights on; thus sighted viewers are made aware of their own shortcomings, feeling awkward in environments these people handle with ease.
In taking this day to day approach, sensually filmed and without any direct proselytising, the film does not shy away from the political. The experience of prejudice is clearly a factor in many of these people's lives, as are its secondary effects - the fear Elena feels, for instance, because she knows it's possible that well-intentioned social workers will try to take her child away.
There is none of the popular patronising attitude that congratulates blind people for successfully doing the housework or going out to work, but there is an acknowledgement of the very real bravery it takes to pursue one's own dreams in the face of fears like this. This spirit is very engaging and the concerns the subjects face make for compelling viewing, making the viewer feel much more emotionally involved than the average documentary does.
With its bold cinematic approach, its fascinating visuals and its deep empathy, Blind Loves is a truly remarkable piece of filmmaking and is deserving of a wide audience.Reviewed on: 21 May 2009
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