on October 03, 2008 by Wade Major
Surgeon Daniel Hong (Han Chin) is caught in the middle of what appears to be a fairly routine domestic feud--his wife, Natalie (Vivian Wu), and his mother (Lisa Lu) despise each other. The reasons for the friction also appear to be somewhat routine--at least for an Asian-American family. Mrs. Hong sees Natalie as disrespectful of tradition while Natalie views her mother-in-law as manipulative and interfering. Of course, appearances in such matters are always deceiving. For starters, Mrs. Hong is blind and Natalie is barren. But there is still more--deep, dark family secrets that unspool over the course of a tense evening which begins with the sudden reappearance of Natalie's ex-lover Patrick (Joe Lando of television's "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"), recently escaped from prison where he has served the past 10 years for the murder of his parents. As it happens, Patrick was also once Daniel's best friend and god-brother.

In the tradition of "Body Heat" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "Blindness" cleverly works a variety of angles simultaneously, some of which are decoys, others of which are not. It's a surprisingly smart thriller given its almost theatrical constraints. Seductively eerie photography by cinematographer Rico Sands, a subtle but effective score by Mark Governor and elegant staging by co-writer/director Anna Chi lend the picture the feel of a classic noir, even as the story endeavors to sidestep genre expectations.

Performances, likewise, are uniformly solid, particularly Wu and Lu who appear together on-screen for the first time despite both having had roles in "The Last Emperor" and "The Joy Luck Club." Trivia-hounds will note a curious role reversal between their parts in "Blindness" and "The Joy Luck Club" in which Wu played Lu's mother in flashbacks. Starring Vivian Wu, Lisa Lu, Joe Lando and Chin Han. Directed by Anna Chi. Written by Jared Rappaport and Anna Chi. Produced by Karen Koch. A Pathfinder release. Psychological thriller. Unrated. Running time: 77 min

Tags: Starring Vivian Wu, Lisa Lu, Joe Lando, Chin Han, Directed by Anna Chi. Written by Jared Rappaport, Anna Chi, Produced by Karen Koch, Pathfinder, Psychological thriller

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