#SXSW: “THE BLIND MAN WHO DID NOT WANT TO SEE TITANIC”
By David Baldwin
Jaakko (Petri Poikolainen) is blind and suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. He was not always this way, but now spends his days in pain and confined to a wheelchair. He chats daily with his girlfriend Sirpa (Marjana Maijaala), who he has only ever spoken to online and by phone. When she receives some bad news, Jaakko decides he must go to see here – even if the solo trip takes three hours and will involve multiple forms of transportation and relying on the kindness of strangers.
For 82 paralyzing minutes, Writer/Director Teemu Nikki takes us on a harrowing journey that is just as uncomfortably intense as it is charmingly humourous. The entire Film is told in close-ups, mainly of Poikolainen’s face, with every background object obscured or completely out of focus. Save for a few moments, we are with him the entire time and basically everyone around him ends up being a disembodied voice or a total blur, giving us keen insight into the limitations of Jaakko’s field of vision. It gets rather taxing in some moments, and completely heartbreaking in others. It makes for a tough watch for casual viewers, whereas the more invested viewers will hold onto Jaako’s every word and movement, hoping against the odds that he will make it to Sirpa. We know it will not be easy, and Nikki is acutely aware of what the audience’s expectations are. And while I will not spoil the obstacles he faces, I had to look away more than once out of sheer terror and distress.
All of these feelings would be meaningless without a compelling lead, and thankfully Poikolainen is more than up to the task. Much like Jaako, he is disabled, confined to a wheelchair and suffering from MS, which makes his performance especially more authentic and the situations he finds himself in infinitely more unsettling. It makes for a challenging and demanding dynamic, yet Poikolainen is always up to the task making for a performance that demands your attention just as it sears its way into your brain. Coupled with Nikki’s direction, it makes for an unforgettable experience unlike any other.
THE BLIND MAN WHO DID NOT WANT TO SEE TITANIC screens at SXSW ’22 as follows:
Saturday, March 12 at 6:00PM EST – Alamo Lamar C
Tuesday, March 15 at 7:15PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 2
Tuesday, March 15 at 7:45PM EST – Violet Crown Cinema 4
Friday, March 18 at 12:30PM EST – Alamo Lamar C
Sunday, March 13 @ 10:00AM EST – Available for 48 Hours