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IN SHORT: Runs a little long but this is a weeper, no doubt about it. Sad and sweet without being sentimental or cloying
Cranky has decided that the four seasons are improperly named. From now on, Summer will be called "Boomtime" (after all the special effects blockbusters that sully our vision); Autumn will be called "Statuetime" ('cuz most of the Oscar wannabees come out of the gate before the official change of season on December 21); and the season formerly known as Winter will now be called "Shredder". As in, "I've sat through so many sad movies in the last two weeks my heart feels like it's been through a . . ."
And lest you think that's a lead-in to a total diss of At First Sight, 'cuz you know I hate weeping, no it's not. At First Sight clocks in at a shade over two hours, which is about the only negative thing I can say about it. The film is a sad, sweet romance about a medical miracle, the restoration of sight to a blind man. Based on a true story of course, 'cuz you'd never believe it if it wasn't, and it works well.
Amy Benic (Mira Sorvino) is a stressed out New York architect who finds emotional release under the skilled fingers of a masseur named Virgil (Val Kilmer). Their first and subsequent meetings are remarkably chaste B indeed the sex is a long ways off as A) Amy discovers that Virgil is blind, which tosses her for a bit of a loop. How she's missed it is one of the clever visual ideas in the script, which you'll discover for yourself, and B) an emergency calls her back to work on the night of the Big Date.
Love will win out, of course, and Amy returns to Virgil and runs smack into his overprotective sister Jennie (Kelly McGillis). She also finds an article about an experimental procedure that shows promise in restoring Virgil's sight. Jennie is opposed B Virgil went through years of "experiments" which ultimately led to their father abandoning the family (and an interesting subplot for the film) but Virgil goes for it, and it works.
At this point, you can guess that the story goes either of two ways. Cranky ain't telling. What makes At First Sight work is that it chooses not to go all sentimental on you, and allows Kilmer to play out the stages of overload his character goes through. This he does well. Think of it this way. If you've never seen, you have no sense of depth perception or color. You don't know what a mirror is. You don't know that glass is, essentially, invisible. The overload puts tremendous strain on the relationship and the fine pairing of Kilmer and Sorvino as they work it all out is truly touching and not mawkish.
Nathan Lane appears as a therapeutic doctor who is enlisted to "teach" Virgil to see. Steven Weber provides the romantic stress as Amy's ex.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to At First Sight, he would have paid . . .
Solid date flick level. Teenboys will suffer. Us old folk who've had a bunch of bad relationships pass under the bridge will be overcome by the good one that plays out on screen.
I'm still working on a new name for "Spring" . . .
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