American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Blindness" is one of the most unpleasant, not to say unendurable, films I've ever seen. It is an allegory about a group of people who survive under great stress, but frankly I would rather have seen them perish than sit through the final three-quarters of the film. Not only is it despairing and sickening, it's ugly. Denatured, sometimes overexposed, sometimes too shadowy to see, it is an experiment to determine how much you can fool with a print before ending up with mud, intercut with brightly lit milk.
In an unspecified city (Toronto, mostly), an unspecified cause spreads blindness through the population. First a driver goes blind at a traffic light. Then his eye doctor goes blind. And so on, until just about the entire population is blind, except for the doctor's wife. Three wards in a prison are filled with people who are quarantined; armed guards watch them. Then I guess the guards go blind. I am reminded of my Latin teacher Mrs. Link, making us memorize a phrase every day: Pone seram, prohibe. Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?*
Many of the imprisoned survivors soon descend into desperation and hunger. The big problem is with Ward 3, and its savage leader (Gael Garcia Bernal). Finding a gun, he confiscates all the food and sells it to Ward 1 in return for jewelry and sexual favors. Oddly enough, I don't recall Ward 2, unless Ward 3 was Ward 2 and I missed Ward 3, and who cares?
Oh, what an ordeal. Clothes falling off. Nude in the cold. People fighting, dying and raping. Blundering around and tripping over things. Hitting their heads. Being struck by pipes they don't see coming, swung by people who don't know what they're swinging at. In the midst of the hellhole is the doctor's wife (Julianne Moore), who doesn't know why she can still see, but loyally stays with her husband.