We all build walls around ourselves.
Sometimes we build these walls because it can be healthy to compartmentalize different parts of our lives.
But these walls can just as often hold us back or even harm us, or the people around us. We can become so concentrated on what is inside our walls that we are blind to what happens outside of them.
It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to bring down those sorts of walls.
But in the meantime, we can do a little, a lot, blindly.
“Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément (A little, a lot, blindly),” uses humor to tell an intensely introspective love story about walls and blindness.
Clovis Cornillac, the director and a writer of the film, stars as Machin, a hermetic mathematician and inventor who requires complete silence to perform his work.
Mélanie Bernier stars as the mousy, naive pianist Machine, who is preparing for a potentially life-changing performance.
He can’t live without his isolation. She has to practice her music to perfection.
So, of course, she moves into the apartment next to him, and the wall separating their lives is paper thin.
At first, the Machin and Machine do everything in their power to drive each other up the wall.
Eventually, they begin to tolerate one another and cooperate with each other’s habits, although a bit coldly.
But in a rare sociable moment, Machin reaches out to Machine about her music, of which he happens to know quite a bit about.
We know there are two outcomes when a complete stranger begins making comments on a professional’s work: the advice is either taken in stride, or, more likely, someone gets their head chewed off.
Luckily for Machin, his blind venture into his neighbor’s life was a successful one, and the two develop a friendship.
After a while, they decide to strike up a romantic relationship, except with one twist – they never, ever see each other.
This is probably why the American release is called “Blind Date,” which adequately follows the letter of the plot, if not the spirit.
But as the Bard wrote, “If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark,” and Machin and Machine’s relationship eventually hits a wall, and the wall that once made their relationship possible, even special and unique, has now become a barrier that tears them apart as their separate projects (his inventions, her performance) are approaching deadline.
Machin and Machine’s complex relationship isn’t the only one that explores the theme of walls and blindness, and many of the supporting characters bring their own unique perspective to the film.
Machine’s sister, Charlotte (who is played by Lilou Fogli, the brain child behind this film, plus a co-writer and Cornillac’s wife) is in an unhappy relationship but can’t seem to find the right guy. This is a woman who has put up few walls between her and the world, but the relationships she strikes up lack the emotional growth that can come with slowly introducing yourself and bringing down those walls to someone new.
There’s also Machin’s best friend Artus (played by Philippe Duquense). As an outsider looking in on the life Machin has made for himself, sees how unhappy Machin is despite his insistence that all he needs to be fulfilled is silence and work.
Finally, there’s Machine’s father Evguenie (played by Grégoire Oestermann) who has pushed his daughter to unnatural levels of piano-playing perfection. But though this, he fails to see how the walls he’s encouraged his daughter to build are keeping her from reaching new heights, both in her profession and personal life.
Despite the language barrier (yes, this movie is in French, so get your reading glasses out for those subtitles) Cornillac uses a small cast with a wide range of character to create a intimate romantic comedy that, in the end, makes you think more than laugh.