CINEMA

THE BLIND MAN WHO DID NOT WANT TO SEE TITANIC (2022)

Movie Review

MPAA: NR

Release Date: SXSW 2022 
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance

Studio: IntraMovies

THE "IMDB" PREMISE:

"Jaakko and Sirpa have never met face to face but used to talk on the phone every day. When he heard about her declining health, he decides to go meet her in another city ,and when he saw he was blind and paralyzed from the chest down."

OUR MOVIE REVIEW:

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic is a fantastic title for this film, as it technically is something that occurs within the narrative, but it gives absolutely nothing away for this tense, intriguing and excitingly constructed Finnish thriller from director Teemu Nikki.

 

Jaakko (Petri Poikolainen) is blind and wheelchair bound. Living in a small flat, with a caregiver coming daily in order to take care of him, Jaakko recounts the time before he was blind and disabled to Sirpa, the woman he loves dearly. However, Jaakko and Sirpa have never met, only maintaining a relationship over the phone, where the constantly discuss the desire to finally meet one day. 

 

After receiving some troubling news about Sirpa’s health, Jaakko decides he is going to travel to meet her, a journey that is only 2 taxi’s and 1 train ride away. With his caregiver unable to accompany him, Jaakko decides that he will entrust 5 strangers, a person at each integral point for him to travel to Sirpa, to help him complete his journey. Unfortunately, the kindness of one stranger vanishes quickly, leaving Jaakko in a fight for his survival.

 

To say that Petri Poikolainen, an actor who in real-life is also blind and wheelchair-bound due to complications later in life with multiple sclerosis, gives a truly captivating and authentic performance is an understatement. With the film being completely told from his perspective, and every shot focusing on him, Poikolainen carries this movie with a heartfelt performance that allows him to show off an array of acting abilities. Early in the film, his romance with Sirpa is heartwarming and funny, playing off as a romantic-comedy. Their discussions are sweet and their connection is felt through the screen, even when it’s just a voice on the phone.

 

Then in a heartbeat, a striking amount of empathy overwhelms the story when Jaakko falls out of his wheelchair and it’s revealed that his caregiver won’t be at his house for another hour. The helplessness, mixed with a solid dash of pride from Jaakko, is devastating to watch. But, when he decides that this journey to Sirpa is something he believes he can achieve, a strong feeling of gravitas overcomes Jaakko and the audience, a triumphant moment in which the belief that Jaakko can pull this journey off seems possible. The mixture of emotions that Poikolainen displays in the opening 20 minutes is truly engaging, and creates an absolute rollercoaster of a film.

 

When Jaakko arrives at the train station, he is left by his taxi driver, who goes to find a service-person to assist with getting Jaakko to the train. This scene is by far one of the most anxiety inducing moments, not just within this film, but within any film of 2022 so far. The way director Teemu Nikki shoots Jaakko’s perspective, is through these incredibly tight close-ups, that really only show our protagonist’s face, and blurs everything else in the background out. In fact, it’s rare that any other faces or places are shown, as a lot of the locations in the film are revealed through sounds. It’s this style of filmmaking, when Jaakko sits alone in a busy train station, completely unsure as to whether this taxi driver has just left him alone or not, that solidified the direction and performance as masterful. The goosebump-inducing scene managed to convey the seemingly horrifying experience of being completely blind and unable to move, uncertain as to whether this stranger Jaakko is relying on will return or not. It’s this point in the film that completely won me over as a fantastic film moment.

It’s the film's second half, that while still solid on a technical level and consists of a great performance from Poikolainen, narratively goes in a darker direction that may feel divisive. It’s not to say that the events that occur are totally outside the realm of possibility, but within the film that has come before it, it personally felt tonally different. The tension is incredibly high and the stakes become life-threatening for Jaakko in a sense that it detracts from the original premise, almost to the point that forgetting he is supposed to be travelling to see Sirpa could be forgiven. This 30 minutes of the film is not technically bad. In fact, as a thriller, it’s premise is quite horrifying. However, the story that is established in the first half felt like it was tense and scary enough through it’s more realistic scenarios.

 

As the film reaches its end, it harkens back to the tone that was set in the first act, with a loveable Jaakko attempting to persevere with his ‘never say die’ attitude. Poikolainen’s performance drives the emotional stakes of the story in a truly entertaining fashion, and Nikki’s direction and ability to capture a blind man’s experience in a seemingly authentic fashion overstates the fact that narratively the film does feel a little all over the place. Overall, this is a film that is worth your time and is incredibly well made.

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OUR VERDICT: