REVIEW: BLIND LOVE (2013)
Published in Cinemagazine on October 17, 2013 under the heading: Reviews
Director: Jenny van den Broeke | 30 minutes | documentary
The way in which Florian’s girlfriend looks at him makes every man jealous. A look of passion, adoration and happy teen love. But Florian is totally oblivious of it. Not that he’s a shy teenager who doesn’t know how to deal with girls. No, Florian just doesn’t notice because he is blind.
How then does he experience love? That is the fascinating question posed in the film ‘Blind Love’. To investigate this premise, director Jenny van den Broeke follows Florian and two other blind teenagers. This results in three special and very different story lines.
Van den Broeke expertly switches between the recognizable teen troubles and the aspects that are specific to blindness. Like with Ilse, who sports fanatically and likes to go out with her friends. She prefers to leave her white cane at home rather then to scare off the guys. And how important are looks? “They are important. You don’t want to be in the street with a guy who’s head you have to cover up with a bag.” On a terrace she asks a friend if the waiter is attractive.
Florian believes he has found the love of his life. “I assume we will be living together”, he affirms confidently. During a performance he proclaims in a song that blind love really exists. And it shows: together he and his girlfriend make apple turnovers, they dance at the prom and at school they walk hand in hand. Looks ‘don’t interest’ him. “For me they hold no meaning. It is data I cannot process.”
The most touching story is that of Merel. She met a Danish boy on Skype and he is coming to Holland to visit her. At the airport they embrace for minutes. For the first time they can ‘see’ each other. Her dad takes pictures for him to look at later. Sure, he will.
To visualize the blindness, animated images of vague body parts have been intercut in the story lines. It seems a bit far-fetched, but it works. Mostly because it provides a pleasant rhythm to the film.
Therefore, with ‘Blind Love’, Van den Broeke has delivered a gem. Through the world of the blind the worn out topic of teenage love has become fascinating and interesting again. At the same time, the most important finding may very well be that this world is not so different after all. Love may be perceived in a different way, in essence is not experienced that differently. There are the same doubts, the same requirements and the same enjoyment.
‘Blind Love’ is doing very well at American festivals. It received an honorary mention at the Santa Monica Independent Film Festival and has been selected for the SF Shorts, a short film festival in San Francisco and the Austin Film Festival in Texas. This International honor is an appropriate reward for the original premise and the loving way in which the teenagers have been portrayed. It deserves a big applause.