• Review Date: September 29, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Arty apocalypse is as rewarding as it is rough.
  • Review Date: September 29, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 120 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Extensive depiction of social breakdown in the wake of a disease that strikes its victims blind -- including riots, quarantine, and armed suppression of blind civilians. As the plague effects the entire populace, civilization descends into chaos, squalor, and filth. A group of quarantined victims set up a tyranny under rule of force, telling other inmates that they'll only receive food in exchange for their remaining valuables, and, later, sex. A man who was blind before the sickness assists this tyranny.


Beatings, shootings, stabbings, scuffling, fistfights, panicked pushing and shoving; nonconsensual sex with a high level of roughness. Several characters are shot on screen; a character commits suicide. Several characters die, trapped in a burning building that's been deliberately set on fire. Plane and car crashes shown in news footage. Government troops fire on unarmed, blind civilians.


Extensive sexual and nonsexual nudity (including both male and female full frontal, from a distance); a prostitute visits a client in a hotel room; consensual sexual activity on screen; sex is bartered for food in the aftermath of a devastating plague.


Frequent strong language, including "damn," "hell," "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "bulls--t," "whore," "motherf---er," and the "N" word.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink wine and hard liquor.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this bleak drama -- which depicts the total breakdown of society (including filth, squalor, graphic brutality, and sexual coercion) in the wake of a plague that leaves its victims blind -- isn't for kids. Several scenes depict the aftermath of the social collapse, including the absence of law and order, medical treatment, food and shelter, and more. There are also several sex scenes -- some of which are consensual, and some of which aren't -- and a good deal of strong language. Violence includes beatings, shootings, and much more.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Jose Saramago, BLINDNESS takes place in an unspecified modern city, where a small group of people are afflicted with a disease that takes away their vision and fills their eyes with nothing but a vast, featureless whiteness -- "like I'm swimming in milk," as one character puts it. When an unnamed ophthalmologist (Mark Ruffalo) is afflicted and taken to quarantine, his wife (Julianne Moore) claims that she's gone blind as well and must be taken with him -- even though she hasn't. Soon, the disease spreads like wildfire, and the quarantine facility is jammed with blind victims. As the outside world provides less and less help, a cruel, cold social order is imposed on the wards by a man (Gael Garcia Bernal) who forces inmates to trade their remaining valuables -- and then their bodies -- for food. Moore tries to save her husband and the others in her care, but what will that cost her, and it is it even be possible?

Is it any good?


Author Saramago reportedly spent nearly a decade rebuffing filmmakers who wanted to adapt his acclaimed novel; finally, though, director Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) and screenwriter Don McKellar convinced the novelist that his book could be brought to the screen. The resulting film is, ultimately, gripping and harrowing and disconcerting; it's certainly one of the bleakest and most brutal portraits of the collapse of civilization ever seen on screen.

And yet, it's not hopeless or inhumane; there are several moments of grace and hope and kindness in the film, even among the muck and blood and cruelty. Moore's character is another showcase for the actress -- viewers watch as a silly, slight woman grows stronger and more assured under what seems like an unbearable burden of responsibility. Visually, the film is a wonder, capturing not just the crush and rush of panicked crowds but also the broken, bizarre landscape of a major metropolis in the wake of a horrible disaster. Blindness isn't for everyone -- it's never shy about the real, rough consequences of the end of civilization -- but it's also lyrical, moving, and carries a fierce message of hope.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the questions the film raises: What would happen if some catastrophic event shattered civilization? Would people come together in a time of crisis or fall apart? Families can also talk about Julianne Moore's character, who becomes a fierce protector to a small group of survivors -- and also grows as a person in her new role. Does crisis bring out the best in some people?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 1, 2008
DVD release date:February 10, 2009
Cast:Danny Glover, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo
Director:Fernando Meirelles
Studio:Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Run time:120 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence including sexual assaults, language and sexuality/nudity.

This review of Blindness was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byElephant<3 June 4, 2011

Most disturbing movie I have ever seen and never finished

I'm a 24 year old female and I thought this movie was absolutely ridiculous. I have never walked out of a movie in my life. The rape was way to long. Maybe they were going for a "shocked reaction" and they sure got it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written byAsiakingtravel October 3, 2008


Teen, 15 years old Written bymovielover7 July 20, 2009

i am 14 and thought it was fine, my parents... probably would think different for me

i liked this movie a lot and my mouth dropped open a couple of times at the "scariness" of this movie and what could possibly happen to the world. I thought some stuff was pretty bad but bearable for me.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?


What are the different ways that you access Common Sense Media ratings and information? (Check all that apply)

Essential Apps Guide