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The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic
Image Courtesy of SXSW

Film

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic is an Intense, Emotional Experience

Teemu Nikki’s latest film is a singular portrayal of a man forced to depend on the world around him.

SXSW 2022
The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic Review

With a shocking shift in tone and a tremendous performance from its lead actor, The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic is more than just a terrifying account of life dependent on others – it’s a reminder that human kindness is not a given. With very few physical presences, Teemu Nikki’s latest film relies heavily on its claustrophobic presentation and endearing lead to build a sturdy foundation upon which to ratchet the tension. The Blind Man Who Did Want to See Titanic is an edge-of-your-seat thriller driven by determination in the face of adversity.

Confined to a wheelchair and hesitant to step outside of his apartment, Jaako (Petri Poikolainen) finds solace in Sirpa (Marjaana Maijala) – a woman who he only speaks with over the phone. Jaako is blind and paralyzed from the waist down, which is ironic because he’s also a massive cinephile. As the title of the film suggests, the conversations between Sirpa and Jaako tend to gravitate around films with James Cameron’s Titanic being a sticking point for the latter. Instead, he loves the works of John Carpenter – whose 1982 cult classic The Thing remains the last film he saw before losing his vision.

The conversations initially seem to only build the rapport between the two lovebirds who find themselves concerned they may never meet each other in person. However, after Sirpa’s condition worsens, Jaako takes it upon himself to venture out into the world he’s avoided and try to meet up with her. The catch? He doesn’t have an assistant with him and is instead depending entirely on the kindness of strangers to get him to his destination.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic
Image Courtesy of SXSW

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic spends a significant amount of time developing the relationship between its two main characters, reinforcing the bond that has formed between them despite not ever having spent time together in the same room. Their routines and how dependent upon one another they’ve become to get through pain and hardship is the heartbeat of the film, making Jaako’s decision to finally visit her not just feel like a contrivance to make the plot move forward; it’s a necessity for the character to move forward.

The world as seen from the perspective of someone who can’t see ends up feeding into everything happening around Jaako. The decision to blur everything not immediately in front of Jaako’s face only lends to the tension that Nikki begins exponentially increasing until the film leaves you breathless. Even with the film’s genre shift into thriller territory, it still feeds smaller character moments into Jaako’s journey. Characters that initially seem one-note end up with enough nuance to understand their decisions later on.

At the center of it is Poikolainen’s performance, who himself is blind and bound to a wheelchair due to a particularly aggressive Multiple Sclerosis. Despite this similarity between character and actor, the film’s plot is completely fictional but thematically relevant. Since the film’s intense close-ups on Poikolainen comprise the entirety of the film’s visual language, outside of what’s blurred just out of his view, it ends up being a largely one-man show outside of the affecting vocal performance from Maijala. However, he’s a character we want to spend all the time with because his worldview is jaded but obviously not cynical enough to push him away from the dangerous adventure he’s headed on.

Not many directors can pull off the balance of abrasive and endearing, but somehow Nikki does so. Eventually, the thriller elements take complete control and can be a bit difficult to watch – both because of the tense situation and the film’s more obvious beats that occasionally verge on farcical. Even with those moments though, The Blind Man Who Did Not Want to See Titanic is an essential experience, utilizing interesting filmmaking techniques to heighten an already-tense scenario. There are few films like it, and that alone makes it a stellar achievement.

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Written By

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Victoria, British Columbia. Given a pint, he will talk for days about action films, video games, and the works of John Carpenter.

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