In The Land of the Blind, This Two-Eyed Lady Is Queen

Julianne Moore, star of the new film "Blindness", directed by Fernando Meirelles. 
She is pictured above at last month's Toronto International Film Festival.  (Photo: WireImage)

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel
October 2, 2008

She's been "Safe", even when she's been "Far From Heaven".  She's undergone an "Evolution" and experienced "The End of The Affair".  She's also learned how to "Trust The Man", as tough as that might be for some women.

Okay, so you get the idea.

The "she" is Julianne Moore, who is back on the big screen again and this time she's leading the blind beginning tomorrow in the U.S. and Canada in "Blindness", directed by Fernando Meirelles ("City Of God", "The Constant Gardener") and based on the Nobel Prize-winning novel by Jose Saramago.  She plays the one human being on earth who can see and pretends not to, leading to a number of scenarios in the film, which was a sensation in its opening of this year's Cannes Film Festival.

"Blindness" is a grim, tough film which has the look and feel of fable.  There's a controversial scene that may stun viewers.  Like the vivid book by Mr. Saramago, now well into his eighties, the film knows how to make one feel uneasy or panicked.  Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Alice Braga and Gael Garcia Bernal also star in the film.  Don McKellar, a Canadian film director, writer and actor adapts the book into the film's screenplay; Mr. McKellar also has a small role in the film.

As for Ms. Moore,  she plays the character simply known as The Doctor's Wife.  Mark Ruffalo plays the Doctor.  In an interview for the film's production notes, Ms. Moore, married to film director Brad Silberling, says of her "Blindness" character: "She is fallible, and a lot of what she does initially just skims the surface of what she really could be doing, keeping things clean, tying up wires.  Her biggest concern in the beginning is her husband.  But her ability to see ultimately both isolates her and makes her into a leader." 

Ms. Moore, 47, has been nominated for four Academy Awards and been touted as the next Meryl Streep for her chameleon-like ability to slip effortlessly into different characters and accents, as well as her skill at imbuing her movie roles with a wealth of depth and emotion.  Ms. Moore starred with Ms. Streep in "The Hours" (2002).

Her approach to "Blindness" was to dress her character by wrapping her with an air of authority, surprising the filmmakers by arriving on the set as a blonde rather than with her typical red hair.  As Ms. Moore explained in the film's production notes, citing the change as part of an instinct she had for the Doctor's Wife: "Red hair makes you stand out because you are in the minority.  I wanted the Wife to be a majority figure."

Julianne Moore summarizes her character as viewed through the landscape of Mr. Saramago's powerful novel.  "I think with this character, Saramago poses the idea of responsibility.  He asks who we are and how responsible are we for one another, for the world we live in and for what we do in it?  You have to consider how aware you are of the consequences of your actions, which really comes into play with the Doctor's Wife."

The consequences of Julianne Moore's actions on the big screen have been attention, acclaim and very good acting.  Expect to see a lot more of her on the big screen in the coming months.  She is in at least three films next year, including "The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee", in which she is joined by a cast that includes Robin Wright Penn, Maria Bello, Alan Arkin, Monica Bellucci, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves.

But starting tomorrow Ms. Moore will be fighting a severe case of "Blindness".

"Blindness" begins in theaters across the U.S. and Canada tomorrow.

Julianne Moore as The Doctor Wife in "Blindness".  (Photo: Miramax Films)

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