One of those little tidbits of pop culture information I'm puzzled I know is that actor Joe Lando played a white guy raised by indians on the tv show Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. I don't know why I know this. I shouldn't. I'm not a big tv fanatic. I've never watched the show, and I think of Jane Seymour as the princess in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger- not Dr. Quinn. But, somehow, during the opening credits of Blindness (1998), I saw Joe Lando's name amongst the Chinese cast and my first thought was, "Dear god, I hope he isn't playing a white man raised Chinese." Well, he doesn't. Though, in Blindness, he does have a Chinese godfather.
This tepid dramatic thriller (and I use the words "drama" and "thriller" very loosely) has an escaped con, Patrick (Joe Lando), busting in on the home of his ex-girlfriend Natalie (Vivian Wu- The Pillow Book), who is now married to his old best friend, Daniel (Han Chin-Treasure Hunt). Patrick and Daniel's fathers were business partners. Patrick has spent the last decade in prison; he was convicted of parricide, which he blames on Daniel's father. Of course, the thin script never really explains the ins and outs of this conviction, only to say since Patrick was found at the murder scene he took the rap, somehow. Patrick, however, claims that Daniel's dad committed the murder over sour business.
Natalie is a really bitter and cranky wife. A real bourgeoisie, Natalie's loveless marriage and affluence seems to afford her a lot of time to sit by the pool with a martini in her hand, icily sneering at her husband and antagonizing his blind mother (Vivian Wu- Empress Dowager '75 version) who lives with them. So, Patrick breaks out and shows up on the doorstep for his revenge. While they wait for Daniel to get home, he pleads his innocence to Natalie, and mama plots and schemes to protect her son. The audience is supposed to care about these four people and the churning mystery behind the death of Patrick's parents. We are also supposed to believe that an elderly blind Chinese woman keeps a derringer and poison in her room- just in case, I guess.
Honestly, I think I've seen more tension in diaper commercials.
This low budget affair is bound to the apartment. I'd almost think it was based on a play, however, if seen in a public forum, Blindness would run the risk of the audience attacking the cast and director. A couple of scenes do show Daniel driving to work and in the operating room (he's an eye surgeon), but the scenes are so throwaway it is painfully obvious they were put in to try and break away and give the film some breath. I'm there to support low budget productions, but this thing has so little life or imagination I cannot think of a single positive attribute.
At just under an hour and twenty minutes, it feels horrendously padded, literally having the same exposition overstated multiple times. The script is joke- when Daniel and Patrick have their first one on one, Patrick says, "You don't seem surprised?" (as in, "suprised to see me?", remember, Patrick should be in jail) and Daniel replies, "I knew this would happed sooner or later." What? We're supposed to believe Daniel logically assumed the next time he saw Patrick would be after he made a jailbreak? He must be psychic.
One note performances all around, the worst of which is Vivian Wu, who unrealistically plays Natalie's bitchiness even when she's got a gun to her head. But then again the poor woman is saddled with a character who asks her husband who he'd rather save from drowning, her or his mother, and willingly sleeps with an old ex-boyfriend/possible murderer minutes after he's been sticking a gun to her temple and flirting with raping her. In keeping with the rest of the production quality, with some awkward edits and bad framing (like seeing the tape covering Wu's breasts in the PG-13 love scene), the direction is clumsy too.
The DVD: Pathfinder Entertainment
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. Sharpness details are good, and the color is nice and warm with rich fleshtones. The film is set at night, and the contrast has some slight graying, but this isn't uncommon with films of its low budget so it doesn't become very bothersome. The biggest problem this transfer has is with the source print which throughout the film has is some constant spotting/white specks.
Sound: Dolby 2.0 Stereo. The audio also has the marks of low budgetdom, including some dialogue bits that were weakly recorded or badly post-looped. That is also forgivable, its a source problem. The music is new agey lounge stuff, the kind of synth instrument plunkings you'd hear in an episode of Red Shoe Diaries
Extras: Biographies--- Still Gallery--- Storyboards--- Audio Commentary by producer Karen Koch and director Anna Chi.
Conclusion: For members of the Joe Lando fanclub only. I'm sure the film makers had good intentions and it pains me to piss on the film so much, but it pained me even more to watch it. Give them credit, Pathfinder does at least try their best, throwing in some extras and such, but, when you consider the film inside, the minor image weakness is the least of this discs problems