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Sensation of Sight, The (DVD Review)

31 Aug, 2008 By: Holly J. Wagner

Sensation of Sight

Street 9/2/08

Box Office $0.02 million
$24.95 DVD
Rated 'R' for some language.
Stars David Strathairn, Ian Somerhalder, Daniel Gillies, Jane Adams, Ann Cusack, Elisabeth Waterston, Joe Mazzello, Scott Wilson.

Finn (Strathairn, also a producer on the film) is suffering a catastrophe-fueled midlife crisis. He abandons his career as an English teacher to sell encyclopedias in his small New Hampshire town and separates from his wife and child to experience his grief.

It's through him that we meet most of the other characters, all of whom are struggling in a fog of grief, but not all for the same reason.

The Sensation of Sight unfolds in fragments of the lives broken by tragedy and plays out in vignettes punctuated with brief flashbacks of happier times. At first it's difficult to understand any connection among the characters. When the strands come together, it's like the quivering edge of a violin string, threatening to snap at any moment.

The ensemble cast does a good job — almost too good — of sharing the characters' isolation, pulling viewers into their varying shades of despair. Strong performances and Finn's eventual epiphany as he figures out how to let go of the past are the payoff, and there are hints that the cloud lifts for others as well.

It's an accomplishment to make a film with good production values in just 18 days and on a low budget, especially for a first time writer-director (Aaron J. Wiederspahn). This one won three festival awards and was an official selection at five others, probably on the performance quality and excellent use of symbolism and metaphor, stitched together with literary quotes that give clues to Finn's introspection.

Bonus materials are a making-of featurette and cast bios.

The film will play best with auteurs, acting students and people who liked Lost in Translation, but with the caveat that it has few happy or even funny moments. Don't watch it with children or anyone who's prone to depression.

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