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At First Sight

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: At First Sight

Starring: Val Kilmer, Mira Sorvino
Director: Irwin Winkler
Rated: R
RunTime: 128 Minutes
Release Date: January 1999
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Kelly McGillis, Bruce Davison

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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Based on a true medical case of a blind man who was able to see again, Irwin Winkler's film revolves around Virgil Adamson, played by Val Kilmer ("Batman"), who was totally blind from the age of three because of a combination of retinitis pigmetosa and congenital cataracts, despite the painful probing and pondering of "experts" ranging from eye surgeons to faith healers. Resigned to his condition, he becomes an incredibly skilled and gifted massage therapist at an Adirondack Mountain resort. That's where he meets a workaholic architect (Mira Sorvino) who falls under the spell of his magic fingers. Convinced by his new client who marvels at his emotional depth, and ignoring the warnings of his wary, protective older sister (Kelly McGillis), he submits to the ministrations of a top ophthalmologist at Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital (Bruce Davison) who promises miracles - and, in fact, delivers sight to Virgil. But how Virgil interprets what he is suddenly able to "see" is another thing. Thousands of unexplainable images assault him. He stands in the midst of New York's fast-moving traffic, unable to believe that a speeding car could hurt him. When he spots his image in a mirror, he says "hello" and is curious why he gets no reply. He is confused by "flirting" and bewildered by "disappointment." Val Kilmer wears a moronic smile through much of the drama, rendering his performance wooden, and Mira Sorvino doesn't fare much better. Only a cameo by Nathan Lane elicits real laughter. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "At First Sight" is a philosophical 5, echoing the sentiment of the blind jazz pianist Ray Charles, who once said he wouldn't want his sight restored because he senses a greater authenticity in his present condition.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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