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blindness460I  have often joked that the Toronto Film Festival wouldn’t be the same without Don McKellar. Every year since I can remember he has a movie playing at the fest, and this year is no different. This year he returns with Blindness, a film he adapted from the 1995 novel of the same name by José Saramago about an epidemic that causes blindness in a modern city, resulting in the collapse of society. Directed by Fernando Meirelles, who made one of my favorite TIFF films ever, City of God, a few years ago, it stars McKellar, Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore and Danny Glover along with an international cast.

The Canadian-Brazilian-Japanese co-production opened the Cannes film festival this year to middling reviews but should fare better with the hometown crowd.

Director Meirelles is unfailing stylish in his presentation of this highly metaphorical work, so, ironically a movie about Blindness is a treat for the eyes. His handling of the story and view of the humanity of the characters is challenging, but a tad disengaged to make the film’s social commentary truly effective. He avoids the clichés of most horror films—Blindness would likely have been a much different movie in the hands of George A. Romero or the like—instead delivering a thoughtful film that doesn’t quite live up to the intensity and promise of the novel.

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