June 23, 2024

Sight 2024 Movie Review

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Sight 2024 Movie Review

When a blind orphan arrives in his waiting room seeking a miracle, a world-renowned eye surgeon must confront his past and draw on the resilience he gained growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution to try to restore her sight.

Well-intentioned but clunkily structured and edited (the film doesn’t necessarily have an ending but rather an abrupt fade and transition into one of the usual Angel studio pay-it-forward advertisements), Sight tells a story about how the past and present inform one another, yet is so sprawling in its attempt to do so that nearly every section comes across as streamlined, forced, corny, and overly cloying.

There’s too much ground to cover in 100 minutes, so every plot point, whether it be a look at the Cultural Revolution in 1970s China and survivor’s guilt of not fulfilling a promise, a breakthrough in curing blindness, the personal life of renowned eye surgeon Dr. Ming Wang (an expressive, affecting performance from Terry Chen) who found success in America, out of place comedic anecdotes involving his family, a puzzling disinterest in characterizing young orphaned Indian girl Kajal (Mia SwamiNathan) inspirational to his life who was blinded at the hands of her mother pouring sulfuric acid to make life more sympathetic as a street beggar (that’s a whole movie right there begging to be made), or some weak third act love interest material with a bartender, director Andrew Hyatt (co-writing the screenplay alongside John Duigan and Buzz McLaughlin, based on the autobiography of that trailblazing doctor) ends up with stale, unimpressionable Wikipedia style filmmaking that would somehow put similar fare to shame.

The more is more approach to storytelling prevents the film from ever settling into a moment or rhythm, meaning the intended emotional punches never hit. Admittedly, there are serviceable performances and the heartwarming true story factor. However, even that is undercut during the ending credits, which makes the usual biopic choice to insert some pictures and footage showcasing bits and pieces of the events that unfolded; it’s moving and suggests that the stronger route might have been through making a documentary.

Stylistic choices, such as having Dr. Ming Wang hallucinating haunting visions of his past as if egging him on to not give up on the children and to keep at it making headway on scientific breakthroughs, feel awkward in a grounded film such as this. The real story doesn’t need that kind of hokey, dramatic elevation; it would be compelling if the filmmakers figured out what to focus on. One portion is a mildly interesting look at scientific trial and error with Dr. Ming Wang experimenting alongside his trusted associate Dr. Misha Bartnovsky (a reliable Greg Kinnear, supportive and amusing); another is a baffling sitcom complete with a bumbling brother failing at entrepreneurship, and then there is a small slice of showing how the good doctor met his eventual wife (lovely, but hardly necessary here), all while flashbacks are rapidly unfolding without a chance to settle into a place and time.

Meanwhile, one wonders how Sight would have turned out if it actually played up the connection between the blind patient and the metaphorically blind doctor, uncertain of how to move forward in his future rather than moving it as something to spell out during the last 10 minutes. It’s reductive that the filmmakers only see Kajal as a source of inspiration, not a fully fleshed-out person, a trope that has plagued disability-centric stories for ages. Likewise, the exploration of Communist China is also surface level and deserving of stronger treatment. Essentially, Sight lacks cohesive vision.

Sight 2024 Movie Review