See For Me

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

See For Me
"A beautifully self-contained, self-sufficient little film." | Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival

Cinema has long had a poorly disguised tendency to fetishise blind women. Where it often exploits the idea of female vulnerability more generally, a blind woman is seen as still more helpless, yet she remains an acceptable object of desire and is allowed to be beautiful, where women with visible disabilities create discomfort. Given this history, one might be wary about the premise of this tale, which sees a blind woman forced to try and survive a home invasion in the property where she’s cat-sitting – a place which presents the further disadvantage of being unfamiliar territory to her. See For Me is a very different beast, however. It makes it clear from the outset that its heroine is far from helpless, and not just because she has access to the phone app referenced in the title. It also demonstrates respect for its subject by fielding a blind actor in the central role.

Skyler Davenport plays Sophie, a former competitive skier who has lost her sight as a result of an accident and is striving to recover her independence. With an overbearing mother who tries to monitor every aspect of her life, she finds escape in house-sitting and pet-sitting jobs, which also give her a source of income. Early on in the film we discover that she has ethically dubious ways of enhancing this income. It’s a detail which foreshadows later plot developments, but it’s also important to establishing her as a complex human being whose disability does nothing to diminish her ambition.

The aforementioned app, See For Me, is a tool which Sophie resorts to only in emergencies – a means through which a remote operator can use her phone camera to provide her with additional information about the spaces around her. It’s a tool which offers advantages that eyes don’t, for instance by making it possible to peer round corners much more cautiously, and writers Adam Yorke and Tommy Gushue have clearly given this a lot of thought. On the flip side, it requires vocal communication, and whilst Sophie uses headlines it is sometimes difficult to believe that her whispering doesn’t give her away.

Importantly, this isn’t a thriller which relies on gimmicks. It’s properly constructed independently of that, and although viewers may guess one or two of the twists early on, the way in which Sophie fits into the story is engagingly unusual. The characters are well drawn and there are some good supporting performances in minor roles, helping to establish what’s at stake. There’s also great natural chemistry between Davenport and Jessica Parker Kennedy, who plays the phone operator – which is intriguing in light of the fact that the two actors never spoke to one another until after filming was complete.

Set in a sprawling house across multiple levels which offers all sorts of odd hiding places and is surrounded by freezing woodland, See For Me is a beautifully self-contained, self-sufficient little film which concentrates its action sequences to great effect and maintains its grip throughout.

Reviewed on: 07 Jan 2022
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A legally blind housesitter turns to a mobile app service for help when the remote mansion she’s looking after is targeted by a gang of thieves.

Director: Randall Okita

Writer: Adam Yorke, Tommy Gushue

Starring: Skyler Davenport, Kim Coates, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Laura Vandervoort, Matthew Gouveia, Keaton Kaplan, Pascal Langdale, Emily Piggford, Joe Pingue, George Tchortov, Drew Tyce

Year: 2021

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Canada


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