Blind Date (2007, dir. Stanley Tucci)
Starring Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson
Navigating the waters of a relationship, especially one that has gone on for decades is a dangerous and fragile thing. It is almost instinctual on many people’s part to use the vulnerabilities of their mates in verbal combat, attempting to make painful digs. External circumstances can also damage both parties in a way that makes their relationship irreparable. This very quiet, simple film examines those moments of conflict by combining emotional realism but aesthetic surreality.
Don (Tucci) works in a bar/theater where he performs an intentionally bad magic act. He will regularly place and respond to singles ads in the newspaper, placed by he and his wife Janna (Clarkson) as part of a strange game they play. They always meet at the theater, where their ads have determined what roles they will play. In a few strange episodes, they play psychiatrist to each other. These meetings are revealed as ritual torture around the half way point when a tragedy is revealed as the reason why they do this back-and-forth routine. The rendezvous typically end in frustration on the part of Janna, unable to forget the pain that birthed this dance.
Despite the complex ideas and concept the film is very rough. The surreality of the setting the repetition, which on one hand is crucial to telling this story, feels tedious and the momentum of the film suffers. The acting is amazing, I wouldn’t expect less from these performers though. The film is part of a series which works to release English language remakes of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s work. Van Gogh was murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004 after releasing a film highly critical of the Islamic community’s treatment of women. Despite the flaws in this remake, it does have me interested in seeing the original and the rest of van Gogh’s work.