Blind Loves (2008)

Slovakian film-maker Juraj Lehotsky’s documentary Blind Loves is an intriguing look at relationships with a very big difference; his four subjects are all blind. Through their moving stories we see how universal emotions, thoughts and feelings are played out in a sightless world. And it’s fascinating to watch.

Piano teacher Peter enjoys listening to adventurous radio plays with his wife, and his imagination runs away with him as he dreams of escaping to an underwater world in an animated fantasy sequence that’s both strange and amusing. Miro is a Romany man whose relationship with a partially sighted white girl is threatened by her parents racism, while expectant mother Elena worries how she will bond with her new baby if the child is able to see. Finally, teenage girl Zuzana is suffering the normal indignities of adolescence, including attempts to find her first love. Frustrated by the idea that her disability is putting guys off, she resorts to looking for partners on the internet.

A documentary constructed and styled almost like a fictional narrative, Lehotsky expertly frames his subjects so as not to be voyeuristic or judgemental. Instead, we see Peter, Miro, Elena and Zuzana going about their everyday lives with no self-consciousness, and it’s the small, unremarkable details that prove to have the most impact. Elena must touch the bulbs on the Christmas tree to see if they are lit, for example, while Zuzana describes her ‘pretty blue eyes’ to the boy she has met online. These are moments not of pity, but of understanding; blind people may have a very different view of our world, experienced through sound and touch, but their hopes, dreams and ambitious are exactly the same. Emotions may be intensified by an inability to see a partner, lover or friend, but they are emotions we have all experienced. And the film’s epilogue, showing how its subjects are faring after the end of filming – and including the heart-warming scene of Elena’s young son describing a movie he is watching for his mother – is a lovely touch.

Although there are moments that do seem scripted – and, indeed, there was most likely a central narrative structure to keep the film on point – Lehotsky’s work is at its very heart honest, intimate and revealing. Having charmed audiences on the international festival circuit, winning prizes at Cannes, Zurich and Trieste, among others, Blind Loves deserves to be seen by a much wider audience.

3 stars

Director Juraj Lehotsky
Certificate tba
Distributor ICA Films
Running Time tba
Opens May 22nd at London ICA (click here for details); key UK cities from June