Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Unintentional double entendres keep coming up with Blindness, Fernando Meirelles' adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago's novel, so I'll get the two most obvious out of the way now: It's a very dark parable that takes a dim view of humanity.

In a city that, like every character, remains unnamed, a Japanese man's vision is suddenly consumed with whiteness while waiting at a red light. Among the first he infects with this unexplained "white sickness" is the stranger (screenwriter Don McKellar) who helps him home before stealing his car, then the ophthalmologist (Mark Ruffalo) who finds nothing physically wrong.

Mysteriously immune is the ophthalmologist's wife (Julianne Moore), who feigns blindness to join her husband and other infected in a government quarantine facility, where things quickly go Lord of the Flies.

Left to live with food rationing and their own filth, the quarantined come under the thumb of a self-proclaimed despot (Gael Garcia Bernal), who commandeers the food supply and demands payment in personal items, then women.

In his play with reflections, shadows and halo-surrounded frames, Meirelles makes us keenly aware of the act of seeing, the better to feel the pain of its loss. And as the sole witness on the inside, Moore makes a strong, empathetic guide.

But Meirelles' view of this dystopia, while often fascinating and occasionally devastating, could use more insight to justify its uniquely stylized ugliness.