TIFF 2018: BLIND SPOT
Originally written for Cinemaaxis.com
Mental illness is often hard to depict in a realistic fashion. There are only a handful of examples where it is treated with respect and dignity without exaggerating for the sake of entertainment. Often films that broach the topic, for the most part, simply increase the stigma that surrounds this widely misunderstood area of personal health.
Blind Spot is a very reflective and deliberately paced film, intentionally slow to emphasize a worldwide problem of mental health issues going unnoticed, as these are issues that are not physically or visually apparent.
Actress-director Tuva Novotny’s directorial debut specifically focuses her film on those invisible areas that could be the difference between sanity or a psychiatric ward. The film exists within that grey area middle-ground, where someone may seem happy on the surface, only to be hiding the pain they are experiencing. Putting on a mask to ensure that life seems okay, to even loved ones. Thinking so low of yourself that you need that mask so your friends and family don’t worry about you.
Such is the case here, as Maria’s (Pia Tjelta) eyes are opened to the fact that her stepdaughter Tea (Nora Mathea Øien) may or may not be suffering from some type of mental illness. Blind Spot shows the difficulty nurses and doctors have when dealing with not just issues of this nature, but with other conditions requiring hospitalization of some sort.
What to say and what not to say is a very delicate tightrope to walk in these professions, and a credit must be given to create some humourous moments, such as doctors and nurses uttering the same false sounding pre-written lines repeatedly. It is funny in a dark way considering the situation. As is some of the reactions from surrounding family members.
Shot in one long, simple take, we feel like silent character observing every ounce of emotion. There are moments where patience is tested as it seems nothing is happening, but this is setting the scene for what is to happen soon. Novotny has constructed a film that is depressing at times, which seems appropriate given the topic, but is seamless and coherent from a technical standpoint. It even has some laughs along the way. Maintaining the heightened emotions without any distracting cinematic flamboyance, Blind Spot is not to be missed.
While it is too slow at some points, this is a near flawless film about a topic that is very hard to make a film about without turning it into some kind of joke, or a villain. One short of a sixer.