Jaakko og Sirpa har aldri møtt hverandre ansikt til ansikt, men de snakker sammen på telefonen flere ganger om dagen. Når han får vite at hennes sykdomsløp har blitt forverret, bestemmer han seg for å reise og besøke henne. Problemet er bare at Jaakko er blind og lenket til rullestolen, og Sirpa bor langt unna. For å komme seg dit må Jaakko stole på hjelp fra fem fremmede. Hva kan gå galt?
Den blinde mannen som ikke ville se Titanic er et intenst drama, vist fra en blind manns perspektiv. For å oppnå dette er filmen skutt med plastfolie over deler av objektivet, og består i hovedsak av nærbilder av ansiktet eller hendene til hovedkarakteren, mens resten av bildet er utydelig.
Petri Poikolainen har samme sykdom som Jaakko i virkeligheten, og gjør en fantastisk hovedrolle i denne filmen. Han portretterer Jaakko på et hjertevarmt, morsomt og altoppslukende vis. Selv om han har førstehåndserfaring med hvordan det er å leve med denne sykdommen, er historien i filmen fiktiv. Filmen er skrevet av regissøren Teemu Nikki. På grunn av Poikolainens stadig svekkede helse ble manuset skrevet i løpet av en sommerferie og deretter spilt inn på litt over en uke.
Etter stående applaus og trampeklapp på filmens premiere i Venezia, lover vi at dette er en film du ikke kan gå glipp av! Den kommer til å ligge i bevisstheten din i lang tid etterpå.
Character studies don't come much more immersive than this one from Euthanizer director Teemu Nikki who puts us, at least visually, in the same boat as his lead character Jaakko (Petri Poikolainen). A complete cinephile - with the notable exception of Titanic, which he refuses to watch - his love of film has continued even though he can no longer see the images any more, after aggressive multiple sclerosis has caused him to be paralysed from the waist down and lose his sight. Now, we see the world as he does, with everything in extremely blurry shallow focus except for Jaakko himself, as he experiences life as a kind of Groundhog Day, waking from a recurrent dream in which he is running to his morning call from his long-distance, disabled friend Sirpa (Marjaana Maijala) and meds before the day passes by with punctuation from his regular phone call from dad and overheard judgemental comments about him from his neighbours. This latter element both underlines and skewers the judgemental nature many have about disability, namely that it may well be something people have 'brought upon themselves' and/or that they are somehow 'tragic' as a result.
After a year of off-and-on pandemic lockdowns, most of us have become aware of how important the sort of connection he and Sirpa have can be. They may never have met physically but their friendship is as real and vital as if they saw each other in person every day. Nikki has a light touch with a script that is able to see the funny side of things but which doesn't make light of the medical and societal situations that Jaakko and Sirpa are facing. It also offers plenty of movie sideswipes to boot, after all, where else will you hear Lassie referenced as "an Americana Jesus dog with a mullet" this year? Sirpa may only be "two taxi rides and a train" away but the trip represents a genuine challenge for wheelchair user Jaakko, especially as time is of the essence.
Jaakko's journey, which he notes will lead him to rely on the help of "five strangers", does not goes as planned but though Nikki will take the material into thriller territory, there's never less than a sense of Jaakko being capable. He may be just as scared as the next guy in the position he finds himself in but he's no more a 'victim' than any of the rest of us. This sort of skewed visual perspective has been done before - employed to a degree by films including The Diving Bell And The Butterfly and Malgorzata Szumowska's Mug - but here the focus on the central character gives it an intensity and immediacy that is heightened by detailed sound design from Sami Kiiski that helps us appreciate the world from Jaakko's point of view.
The film also benefits from the fact that its star Poikolainen - an old friend of the director's and who he specifically wrote the role for - has the same condition as his fictional character, meaning that he is able to bring life experience as well as strong acting talent to the part. An altogether warmer film than Euthanizer - as evidenced by its Audience Award win in Venice's newly established Orizzonti Extra sidebar - Nikki again shows a keen ear for black comedy, alongside an ability to generate sudden tension from almost nowhere.
Not that it's entirely relevant, but in the interests of full disclosure, at the time of writing, I haven't seen Titanic either - after watching this, I feel as though I'm in good company. What's that you say? You love that movie. Well, as Jaakko notes, "Nobody's perfect." (Eyeforfilm.co.uk)