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SXSW film review: The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic is a thriller from a blinded perspective

Petri Poikolainen as Jaakko in The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic
Petri Poikolainen as Jaakko in The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic. Pic credit: Image courtesy of SXSW

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic is about as simple and thrilling a premise as can be written. A blind and wheelchair bound man who spends most of his days in isolation decides to take a bold risk and travel alone. But what if someone decides to take advantage?

As stated in other articles, the person writing this review also has a disability. Traveling in a wheelchair is an insanely vulnerable journey and one that absolutely requires empathy from strangers — and sometimes empathy is lacking. For example, here at SXSW this writer was dropped off by an Uber driver two blocks from his location and left without help.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic takes this paranoia up a notch with bad samaritans. What if the wrong person offered to help?

Here is our review of The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic review

The film centers on Jaakko (Petri Poikolainen) a blind man confined to a wheelchair who lives alone. Jaakko spends his daily routine waking up and spending the day having intellectual conversations with Sirpa (Marjaana Maijala). Each day they discuss life, conditions, and Jaakko muses her with his love of film–mostly the works of John Carpenter.

Jaakko has M.S. and Sirpa has a condition that is slowly killing her. And one day, she explains to Jaakko that the treatment she has been receiving no longer works. Frustrated and feeling ambitious, Jaakko decides he will face adversity and go visit Sirpa. And the way he explains it is authentic to a wheelchair bound perspective. All Jaakko has to do is complete four switches and he will be in her presence. The house to the taxi, the taxi to the train, get off the train and grab one more taxi, and then voila.

But as he embarks boarding a train, a mysterious man begins putting himself in Jaakko’s path–and what Jaakko cannot see is the mystery train rider’s intentions are not friendly.

Back in 2021, there was a rather promising Korean thriller called Midnight that promised to use sound to enhance the suspense of its premise because the main character is deaf. And while that movie was a fun roller coaster ride, it was not because we were feeling the weight of a disability.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic is much closer to what I was hoping for in that movie.

Director Teemu Nikki hinders the visual background surrounding Jakko to almost encapsulate him in a floating blurry bubble. We see him perfectly and any object close to him. But the audience sees nothing but out-of-focus talking silhouettes in both landscapes and indoor settings. Basically, this is the best use of shallow depth-of-field to enforce suspense ever put to screen.

Because of this, the film accomplishes two things: 1) We feel what is like to be blind but also aware of our surroundings, and 2) it makes the audience extremely insecure about Jaakko’s safety.

For example, one scene specifically has Jaakko alone in an unknown building (after being forced there against his will) and the tension is relentless as he gently rolls with everything out of focus. Anyone who has either been around someone with a wheelchair or knows someone with a chair, will be screaming one phrase repeatedly… “Please, do not fall down steps.”

Actor Petri Poikolainen is also a revelation in this film. Originating as a theater actor before M.S. took its toll on his physical and visual abilities, it is very clear Poikolainen’s acting has not been hindered at all.

He has a heavy weight to carry the suspense, humor, and emotion of this film– mostly by himself. Needless to say, he makes it look easy.

The great Roger Ebert once said, “Movies are like a machine that generates empathy.” No better quote can be used to describe this film. The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic is an empathy machine in the window dressing of a suspense thriller.

By the time the credits roll, viewers’ hearts will be racing, their hearts will be touched, and a new appreciation of how terrifying it is for traveling with a disability will be gained.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic: Should you watch it?

Utilizing inventive ideas with shallow depth of field, The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic rises above the possibility of being labeled a gimmick. It takes suspense thrills in a new direction by placing the movie watcher in a blinded position.

It’s amazing to think that within a week, this reviewer might have watched two contenders for the best movies of 2022. The first being Everything Everywhere All At Once and now, The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic.

This is a must-see.

For more films from SXSW 2022, check out our reviews of DMZ and the film X.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic currently does not have a wide release date yet but keep this film on the radar.

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