written and directed by Tuva Novotny
by Bill Chambers I'm dense; I hadn't read anything about Blind Spot in advance, and it was a while before I realized I was watching a film that not only hadn't cut yet but was likely never going to. The picture opens with two adolescent girls getting dressed after gym class, scrolling through apps ("Look!" Thea (Nora Mathea Øien) says, waving her phone at her friend, who distantly acknowledges whatever it is she's supposed to see), and walking home from school together, which involves 11 uninterrupted minutes of mindless chatter. While admiring the awesome banality of it all, I somehow failed to notice that the film's form was dictating its commitment to verisimilitude. Maybe that's one of the blind spots to which the title refers--it seems to have a few meanings, both within the story being told and more metatextually. For instance, Thea returns to her family's apartment, has a little supper in front of the teevee while her stepmother, Maria (Pia Tjelta), tends to her baby brother, brushes her teeth, jots something in her diary, checks her phone, and then, for the first time, escapes our gaze, stepping out of frame into a literal blind spot, manufacturing a mystery out of those pivotal seconds before Thea, evidently, tries to kill herself by jumping out the window.
I assume writer-director Tuva Novotny demurs here so as not to set off any triggers, but the moment is so anomalous and, strangely, as the camera lingers in Thea's bedroom doorway anticipating Maria's discovery of what's happened, so much more voyeuristic than all the many Elephant-esque tracking shots flanking it that it stands out as contrived. On the other hand, it bifurcates the picture in a way that's not inappropriate for what comes to feel like a two-act filmed play. The rest of Blind Spot finds Thea and Maria, in a scene of impressive, almost embarrassing urgency, being rushed to hospital and then a kindly male nurse named Martin (Oddgeir Thune) talking both Maria and her husband Anders (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) down from hysteria as they wait for news on Thea's condition. The couple talks about the surprise of it all, given Thea's sunny disposition, and then maybe the inevitability (Thea's biological mother committed suicide). Whatever was wrong with her, it was concealed in their periphery. Blind Spot really doesn't advance the teen-suicide conversation beyond what Permanent Record said thirty years ago, but it captures the limbo that is an evening in the trauma ward with staggering authenticity, especially in how Martin becomes their therapist and valet as he coaxes them in baby steps through hospital protocol. And the long-take gimmick works because of how spent the actors look from remaining in this intense headspace for 98 solid minutes. Poor Maria, poor Tjelta; by the end, they're one and the same. Blind Spot is, if nothing else, a rush. Programme: Discovery