Imagine by Andrzej Jakimowski [9/10]

Imagine” is the bold and brilliant 2012 creation of Polish filmmaker Andrzej Jakimowski. Blind British teacher Ian, who teaches blind children to transcend their canes with the use intense listening and echolocation (voice or finger clicking), arrives at a Lisbon blind clinic. Here the children (and a reclusive German blind woman, Eva) are taught to always proceed with a tapping white cane, and from the outset Ian’s bold new approach startles and scares the students and staff alike. The movie plays out as a heuristic challenge: can Ian convert his charges to a richer, cane-less existence before society’s caution shuts him down? The education of Eva (wonderful acting from Alexandra Maria Lara) is especially fraught and meaningful. Edward Hogg portrays Ian in a stunning performance, full of fiery daring and intelligence, and the children, many of them apparently real blind kids, are superbly natural. The cinematography crowds the blind people, mimicking their cramped sensory boundaries, and several scenes of Ian with his charges crossing traffic are terrifying. The script establishes tension and intrigue from the first frame, and I was riveted from the start to the dramatic climax. A highly original tale of meaning and risk, Imagine is a movie I would not normally have gravitated to (it’s six years old!), but I’m delighted that I did, for it’s one of 2020’s viewing highlights, something I’ll go back to for the savoring.

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