Daily | Venice 2016 | Christopher Murray’s THE BLIND CHRIST

“Working largely with non-professional actors from Chile’s poor northern desert regions, local director Christopher Murray crafts a slow-paced but absorbing fable about a young mechanic who believes he has, possibly, been chosen by God to perform miracles,” begins Screen‘s Lee Marshall. “That little seed of self-doubt grounds and humanizes this Latin American spin on a theme explored in films from Ordet to Whistle Down the Wind: like its protagonist and the arid, mining-ravaged landscapes he walks through, Murray’s second feature is suspended between exaltation and bathos, savage beauty and disillusionment.”

“Like in his 2010 Rotterdam entry Manuel de Ribera, there is an overarching fictional arc but the details of the film contain a large dose of documentary DNA, with many locals and their actual stories braided into the main narrative,” notes Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter. “With his elongated face, huge eyes and dark hair, Michael (Michael Silva, the cast’s only professional actor) looks like the Christ Pantocrator from the Byzantine era… The Blind Christ starts, as any Christian film should, with total darkness and then a voice. It booms: ‘Let me tell you a story,’ which will become a familiar refrain as Michael recounts various parables to the people he meets on his travels. And like at least some of their counterparts in the Bible, the exact meaning of these allegories isn’t always directly evident.”

Murray “succeeds in conveying the sense of those living in desiccated communities forgotten by the government, who have lost all hope and turn to religion as a last resort,” finds Jay Weissberg in Variety. “Yet while striving for something magisterial, the film is too often dulled by over-studied lifelessness. Attractively though monochromatically shot, Blind Christ means to be a sympathetic reflection on the desire for faith, but its calculated solemnity generally pushes away an empathic response.”

The Blind Christ, competing in Venice, “is a mysterious piece,” writes John Bleasdale at CineVue. “Its resonance is not as long-lasting as one would hope and its insight seems, if not blind, then a little blinkered.” More from Silvia Ricciardi at Cineuropa.


The 2016 fall film festival indexes: Venice, Telluride and Toronto.

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