A driven Manhattan architect, Amy, relaxes at a resort and falls for the masseur, Virgil, blind since age 3 and assisted by his spinster sister. He helps Amy hear and sense the world, giving her new spirit and a burst of creativity. Over the sister's objections, Amy takes Virgil to New York for new, radical surgery. He regains his sight. He's disoriented and must learn to process these new images. Finding his place in a seeing world strains his relation with Amy; his absent father wants to connect with him now that he can see; then, retinal disease threatens to undo the surgery. Can love survive, will he find his new place and his old tranquillity, can Amy accommodate limits? Written by
Val Kilmer prepared for his role by studying with a sculptor friend of his in New Mexico who had lost his sight in Vietnam. At 49:30 (NTSC) he is admiring a sculpture when he first visit's Amy's flat. See more »
Just before Virgil leaves, he puts Amy's arm behind her back, but in the shot of him going out, it is at her side. See more »
At the start of the closing credits: Inspired by Dr. Oliver Sacks' true account of the experiences of Shirl and Barbara Jennings They are now married and living in Atlanta, Georgia Barbara continues to sculpt and although Shirl never regained his vision, he now paints pictures of his brief adventure in sight See more »
Only works because of the performances. *** out of ****
AT FIRST SIGHT (1999) ***
Starring: Val Kilmer, Mira Sorvino, Kelly McGillis, Steven Weber, Bruce Davison, Nathan Lane Director: Irwin Winkler 124 minutes PG-13 (for sexuality and nudity, and some language) ***
By Blake French, based on comment by Lynda French and Faye Blink:
In many ways "At First Sight," is not a good movie. For instance: It does not do a good job of explaining the inspiration for the plot, the blind man's optical surgery. That is unfortunate, because I really was interested in that concept.
The film, based on a novel called "To See and Not See," is centered on a man who has gotten used to being blind. He knows his entire way around New York. He then falls in love with an architect. Her name is Amy. Virgil, the blind man, is hired by complete coincidence to be her massager. The minutes he touches her, she knows that this man is different for other men she has formed relationships with in the past.
The plot is strong, but thin at the same time. For instance, the film takes heed in developing the characters, but never the conflict, or villain, or sub-plots. If the director would have decided to focus on those things a bit more, or a lot more in that matter, the film would have been wonderful. After all, it is well written and performed.
There is a sup-plot, however, that is detailed. The filmmakers throw in a false break up between two characters, and how Vigirl deals with the misguided presence of his distant father. This incidence is only in existence to create sappy melodrama to further the movie's running time.
My main recommendation comes only from the first rate performances from Kilmer and Sorvino. Val Kilmer ("The Saint" 1997, "Heat" 1994) delivers is outstanding as the blind man. He brings to life the confusion of lack of sight. Mira Sorvino ("Mimic," 1997, "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion," 1997) plays Amy with boldness and verve. She also captures the wonder and creativity of the audience's imagination. The sub-characters including Steven Weber ("Sour Grapes" 1998, "The Shinning," 1997) Bruce Davidson and Nathan Lane ("Mousehunt" 1997) are also very suburb in their roles.
That said, this film is not all that original. Think about it for a minute: two people fall in love, who have many differences and problems. Does this sound familiar? The truth: this is just another romance story with a gimmick. The film works, but only by the skin of its performances.
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