Sightless (2020) is a psychological thriller that centers on the protagonist, Ellen (played by Madelaine Petsch), who was previously a famous violinist before she suffered from a violent attack. The attack leaves her blind and disorientated, having no choice but to trust those that appear around her when she wakes, namely her caregiver, Clayton (played by Alexander Koch), who—as thrillers go—is not who he seems to be.
The movie reveals itself to be a classic case of the unreliable narrator, as Ellen’s perceptions are constantly being challenged every time she makes a false assumption about either where she is or who she encounters. Through clever cinematographic techniques, the viewers can ‘see’ through Ellen’s eyes but quickly realize that everything she is imagining may not be very accurate. But especially at the beginning of the movie, it’s very easy to forget the inaccuracies in Ellen’s imagination because of both her sight impairment and her newness to her condition.
What I think the movie does well in is the slow reveal of key information so that viewers can slowly piece together the situation. However, there are moments where certain flashbacks and scenes become repetitive, but I suppose that reinforces the trauma that continuously haunts Ellen. One thing I feel is abrupt is Clayton’s sudden confession of his feelings for Ellen. Although it helps propel the action forward, I don’t see it as very believable and find it quite jarring because it occurs right after Ellen experiences another attack in her room.
In terms of the bird imagery that appears throughout the movie both graphically and mentions through dialogue, I feel that there could have been greater depth and perhaps cinematographic techniques used to emphasize the parallel between Ellen and the caged bird more. However, I think the symbolism of caged birds is not too original and I would’ve liked a comparison/symbol that is a little more unique or at least explored in a more rigorous and unconventional way in the movie.
If my memory serves me correctly, I remember watching another movie in the past with a similar premise. Though, I can’t seem to remember its name. None the less, for those who like to think a little when watching movies and enjoy unexpected twists, this would be a movie I would recommend.
Currently available on Netflix.