|Tui na 2014 China, France Blind Massage|
It starts off like it's going to be about some kid who loses his sight in a car accident and is told it's only temporary. He eventually learns he was lied to and won't get his sight back. He tries, unsuccessfully, to kill himself. This part is narrated in voice-over by a (non-character) woman who also reads the opening credit roll and returns throughout. Usually films resort to voice-over as a last resort, but it works here. The guy takes a job at a massage establishment run by two blind men and staffed by all blind or partially blind people. The film then morphs into an ensemble piece about several of them: their loves and lusts, not so much their blindness. So it's a film about 'standard' things that go on in the lives of people who happen to be blind. A couple of the blind women steal the show.
The amazing (and perhaps frustrating to some) thing about the film is how it does give you an idea of what it's like to be blind. You really get a sense that things are just swirling around rather than being observed. The film's notion of focus is genius. There are lots of truly emotional moments in the film (only slightly off-center from what we're used to because the characters are blind) but they aren't maudlin or melodramatic. They are more darkish, almost creepy. This is no after-school special. There are scenes where the central dialog takes place off camera, or, right when a scene screams for some resolve it's simply dropped. That happens a lot. Very weird. There's scenes where you feel the discomfort for the characters who, during a moment of drama, can't read body language or facial expressions. It punches. Whoever shot this film should win an award. The direction, editing, and cinematography are wildly inventive.
I didn't get the ending of the film but the last shot is a truly beautiful smile.
Summary: A drama centered around the employees of a Nanjing massage parlor who share a common trait: they are all blind.