An unprecedented and inexplicable epidemic of blindness hits a city. Called “white blindness”, as affected people only see a milky surface, the disease initially appears in a man in traffic and, little by little, spreads across the country. As those affected are quarantined and the services offered by the state begin to fail, people begin to fight for their basic needs, exposing their primal instincts. In this situation, the only person who can still see is the wife of a doctor (Julianne Moore), who together with a group of interns tries to find the lost humanity.
- Rating: R (Sexual Assaults|Language|Sexuality/Nudity|Violence)
- Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Drama
- Original Language: English
- Director: Fernando Meirelles
- Producer: Niv Fichman, Andrea Barata Ribeiro, Sonoko Sakai
- Writer: Don McKellar
- Release Date (Theaters): Oct 3, 2008 Wide
- Release Date (Streaming): Feb 10, 2009
- Box Office (Gross USA): $3.1M
- Runtime: 2h 0m
- Distributor: Miramax Films
Blindness (2008) – recap
It seems to be another normal day in the city until suddenly, a traffic jam causes a commotion among the local drivers. A businessman has suddenly stopped his car in the middle of the street because for an unknown reason, he’s gone completely blind.
A group of people approach him to help and a man volunteers to drive him home; however as soon as they get there and the businessman gets off, the thief drives away with the car. The businessman is left lost outside, but the thief returns seconds later pretending to be a different person to help him reach his apartment, offering his company for the afternoon.
This time it doesn’t work, the businessman has learned his lesson and kicks the thief out once he’s safe at home. A few hours later, the businessman’s wife arrives and as soon as she learns about her husband’s blindness, she takes him to see a specialist.
Since it’s an emergency, the doctor allows them to cut in line and go first. Unfortunately no matter what machine the doctor uses to check the businessman’s eyes, he can’t find any signs of damage or illness, which means it must be neurological.
The businessman will have to go to a hospital and get some tests done there, although the doctor has never heard of something like this before. After the couple leaves, the doctor receives his other patients, which include a child, a woman with sunglasses and a man with an eyepatch.
Meanwhile, the thief is driving the stolen car around town and trying to avoid the cops until he has no choice but to pull over because he has gone blind as well. He ends up going to the police for help, and when an officer takes him to his old home, his ex-wife refuses to let him in.
Later in the evening, sunglasses woman goes to a hotel and after asking the bartender for a drink, she joins her client upstairs. Their meeting goes well, but the afterglow is ruined when she suddenly starts freaking out as her vision goes white too.
The doctor goes home to have a lovely dinner with his wife, and all goes well until they wake up the next morning and he also finds himself unable to see. They call the hospital to warn them about a possible infection going around, and they’re believed because the child is there too, unable to see as well.
Soon, cases of sudden blindness begin appearing all over the city, and the government begins taking the first steps to stop it. The doctor’s office is closed by the authorities, and the doctor himself is taken away to be quarantined.
His wife can’t stand the idea of being away from him, so she decides to lie and pretend she’s blind too in order to be quarantined with him. The couple is taken to a derelict asylum, which is completely empty and not even other doctors will be staying there with them.
Each ward has a phone to contact the guards outside, but it can only be used for emergencies and each ward must have a representative as the only person that can use it. Soon, more people start arriving, like the thief, the sunglasses woman, the kid, and the businessman.
The doctor and his wife agree to keep her sight a secret, and by pretending she explored and memorized the place when they arrived, the doctor’s wife becomes a guide for everyone when they need help with things like going to the bathroom.
During their first trip out of the room, the thief walks behind sunglasses woman and gets a little too handsy, which makes her respond by kicking him in the leg. Her heel causes a serious wound that the doctor and his wife end up bandaging with a shirt, because there’s no first aid kit around.
Later, the doctor’s wife can’t sleep, thinking about a possible infection of the thief’s leg and afraid she may wake up blind too. The doctor tries to get frisky with her, but she prefers to take a walk to deal with her worries.
The next morning, more people arrive, and the businessman gets to reunite with his wife while the kid laments that his mother hasn’t shown up yet. The doctor and his wife try to talk to the guards and ask for help for the thief’s leg, but the guards don’t cooperate: they just point their weapons at them and make them return to their room under threat.
Sometime later, they receive their first box of food, which is as bad as a school or prison cafeteria; there’s also not enough of it. The doctor’s wife tries using the emergency phone to ask for more food and a first aid kit, but nobody picks up her call except for an answering machine where she leaves plenty of messages.
Weeks start to pass and each day, more and more infected people are sent to the asylum. The doctor’s wife ties a cloth line between wards as a guide and the doctor’s chosen as representative of ward one, but keeping order soon becomes impossible.
Since everyone is blind, they soon stop caring about tidiness, and people begin wandering around without clothes and relieving themselves in the middle of the hallway. The businessman tries to keep his mood up by chatting with his wife about their young days, but his wife can’t stand to even think about happier times.
One afternoon, the doctor’s wife hears a noise and discovers eyepatch man has a radio with him that he has been listening to in private. She convinces him to share the news with everyone, since they’re all desperate to know what’s happening outside.
Eyepatch man explains that there aren’t many stations left, but he got the general gist of it: the first twenty-four hours there were hundreds of cases, which the government simply solved by sending the blind people to the asylum and asking everyone else to stay home.
Then, the general public had to watch how specialists around the world got together to have conferences where they used lots of words to just say they didn’t know what was going on. Soon, even the specialists got infected and the sickness began appearing overseas.
People got tired of waiting at home and tried to go outside, but soldiers were on watch and arrested anyone breaking the rules. The city became chaos, especially because car crashes kept happening and even planes began to fall as well.
Citizens began getting scared and decided to stay home after all, so now the city is a desert and the government is doing nothing about it because they’re blind as well. Days later, a huge group of infected people is brought to the asylum, and the soldiers show how vicious they’ve become by shooting a man for simply getting off the line by accident.
The sound of the gunshot triggers people’s panic and everyone rushes inside by pushing each other without a care and even breaking the doors. The worst part is, the soldiers don’t even come to pick up the body.
Hoping they can bury it themselves, the doctor’s wife requests a shovel, which the soldiers throw in the middle of the yard without moving from their towers.
Since the doctor’s wife is still pretending to be blind, she asks for directions, and the soldiers mess around with her until she finds the shovel and gives them the finger.
Meanwhile, the doctor is trying to communicate with the representatives of the other wards to coordinate the burials, since two more people have gotten shot, he also wants to discuss the fact one of the wards is taking more food than their fair share. The bartender gets tired of hearing the doctor act as a leader and declares himself king of ward three, his first order being that his ward can eat all they want before they even consider helping with the bodies.
Later, the doctor’s wife goes to check on the thief, who has a fever because his leg’s got a serious infection. She tries to stay supportive, but the thief suddenly threatens her as he reveals he knows she isn’t blind, causing the wife to rush back to her husband and finally have a breakdown.
The thief can’t stand the pain anymore and waiting for things to end naturally is just an exercise in agony, so he drags his body outside and lets the soldiers shoot him.
The doctor’s wife feels guilty and begins wondering if she should tell everyone the truth, but the doctor forbids her to do it, he also expresses his worry over the fact their relationship has become something more like a nurse and a patient instead of a marriage.
Sometime later, the bartender manages to find the asylum’s administrative office with the help of the accountant, a fellow ward three member that has been blind since he was born, meaning he has a better grasp of how to live like this. Using the PA system, the bartender announces he’ll take control of the whole asylum as its king, and the first new rule is that people will have to pay for their food.
This rule isn’t well received and soon there’s chaos near the food storage as everyone fights to get access, so the bartender reveals his secret card: he managed to keep a handgun with him when he was brought to the asylum.
With a warning shot, he sends everyone back and takes control of the food storage, announcing they’ll be guarding it all day long and threatening to shoot anyone that tries to steal.
Some people consider not playing along, but it’s too dangerous when the enemy has a weapon. The doctor’s wife begins collecting everything she can from the people in her ward, from jewelry that includes wedding rings to anything that they can find in their pockets, although she keeps a pair of scissors that she finds in a woman’s bag.
The kid doesn’t have anything to offer, but sunglasses woman has become his surrogate mother and promises to pay for him.
At the food storage, the accountant is using his experience to identify the quality of the objects they’re brought by touching them. No matter how expensive the jewelry is, though, the bartender only assigns a couple of boxes per ward and threatens anyone that dares to complain.
People find themselves having to share one-person meals, and the doctor keeps to himself, not in the mood to keep his leadership kindness up when he feels like a failure. Sunglasses woman approaches him to comfort him, reminding him there’s nothing he can do against a gun, and the two of them end up getting frisky on the floor.
The doctor’s wife finds them while they’re finishing, but instead of making a scene, she tells sunglasses woman that she can see, asking her to keep the secret and letting her own guilt do the rest. A week later, once everyone in the asylum has run out of things to pay with, the bartender announces that they’ll take service from women in exchange for food.
The doctor’s wife goes outside to demand to know why new rations haven’t arrived, and the soldiers explain they’ve given them all they have, so rationing is up to them.
An argument begins around ward one deciding on how to proceed, and the doctor cuts it short, pointing out it’s not up to them to make the women do anything. If anyone wants to volunteer, it’s up to them, but there won’t be any judging or pressure from anyone else.
After lots of thinking, one of the women finally volunteers, inspiring others like the doctor’s wife and sunglasses women to do the same. Businessman doesn’t want his wife to go and tries to forbid it, but the wife reminds him she shouldn’t be treated any differently and goes anyway.
The accountant comes to pick the women up and takes them to the food storage room, where they have the worst night of their lives. The guys are vicious and violent, and one of them goes so far with the manhandling that he kills one of the women.
In the morning, the doctor’s wife asks for someone else to go and pick up the food because the women have come back with the body in their hands, ready to clean her up and give her the goodbye she deserves. Later that day, the accountant checks a different ward for more volunteers, and he even has the nerve to come to ward one to congratulate them on a job well done, even if one of them didn’t move much.
It seems they don’t know one of the women had been dead and they used her anyway, so the doctor’s wife informs him of this, leaving him speechless. All this taunting finally makes the doctor’s wife snap and takes the scissors with her to the storage room, where everyone is distracted by the women from ward two.
Without hesitation, she kills the bartender with the scissors before dragging the girls with her while the accountant realizes what has happened and retrieves the gun, but none of his shots land. On her way out, the doctor’s wife makes an announcement of her own: if they don’t release the food, more men will die; now it’s her who will be collecting.
The doctor worries this will start a war, and he’s right: ward three barricades the area and still doesn’t release the food. Ward one gets ready to fight and recover what is theirs, but before they can do anything, one of the women decides to take revenge.
It turns out she’s kept a lighter hidden in her pocket all this time, and she uses it to sneak into ward three and start a fire. The flames are quick to spread, killing many men, and before panic can take over, the doctor’s wife guides them out of the building.
Surprisingly, nobody gets shot because the guards aren’t even in their towers anymore. The doors aren’t locked either, which can only mean one thing: they’re finally free.
The doctor, his wife, the kid, eyepatch man, sunglasses woman, the businessman, and his wife decide to stick together as they make their way downtown, where they discover society has collapsed.
The city has become a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the few people left wander around as they try to survive, attacking each other if they even suspect there can be food in their pockets; some animals are even feeding on bodies. The doctor and his wife leave the group hidden inside a bar while they go to the nearest market to see if they can find some food.
The people there are grasping at the few things that are left on the shelves, but the doctor’s wife can see and is able to find a set of stairs that takes her to a storage room while the doctor gathers clothes. After filling a few bags, the wife tries to make her way out, but the people there hear the noise the things in her bags make and jump on her to rob her.
Fortunately, the doctor hears this and comes to help, pushing everyone away and putting himself between the crowd and his wife as a shield as they run out of the building.
Once they’re far enough, the wife takes a moment to get herself together while the doctor goes back to retrieve the clothes he had dropped on their way out, and a cute dog takes the chance to come closer and befriend her.
Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, it begins raining, and the wife takes the dog with her inside a church to wait for her husband under a dry roof. The church is incredibly crowded and all the statues have had their eyes covered, yet a priest won’t stop promoting the word of god.
Outside, people are taking the chance to collect water and wash their bodies since they hadn’t had clean water in a long, long time. The doctor comes back with the clothes and picks up his wife to rejoin the group with the dog following them, becoming their new companion.
The group eats some rations inside the bar and decides to stay the night there to rest properly, then in the morning, they go out again, carefully walking through the city to reach the house of the doctor and his wife, who have offered to share it with everyone. From then on, the group manages to establish a routine.
With the guidance of the wife’s sight, they clean the apartment and share the doctor’s clothes, they only go out when they need to find food, and they collect water and wash whenever it rains.
Eyepatch man wishes to live with them forever because they’ve become a family, and the businessman’s wife finally reconnects with her husband, sharing some memories of their young days as well. The doctor and his wife also get to reconnect, and now that she isn’t overwhelmed with stress anymore, she accepts to get frisky with him again.
Weeks later, everyone is getting ready for breakfast when the businessman suddenly starts yelling: in the same abrupt way blindness had come to him, it is now gone and he can see again.
Everyone starts celebrating as they understand their bodies can fight off the disease and blindness is temporary, which means hope is back on the table for their futures.