The co-writer, alongside director Joachim Trier, of Reprise and Oslo, August 31st, Eskil Vogt makes his directorial debut with Blind, playing at Sundance 2014. Vogt’s already proven a capacity for both big ideas and intimate moments alongside Trier; with Blind, however, he makes a directorial debut that manages to connect thematically with his earlier screenwriting efforts while also standing as a film unto itself; it’s a film that – deliberately –  seems to constantly shift slightly in your mind’s eye as you watch it. Is it a relationship drama? A thriller? A post-modern examination of the difference between sight and perception that speaks in frank, adult and that also touches the heart while finding laughter in literally the darkest moments? Blind is all those things; it’s also much more.

Ingrid (Ellen Dorrit Peterson) has lost her sight; as she explains in voice-over, she spends every day trying to recall the world as she saw it so it might better stay fixed in her mind as it was and as it is. Her husband Morten (Henrik Rafaelsen) is loving and devoted, only asking that at some point Ingrid leave the apartment where she (mostly) can navigate her universe by touch. Ingrid also tells us about Einar (Marius Kolbenstvedt), a lonely man whose constant porn-watching is seeping into parts of his life and his desires where it may very well do harm; she also tells us about Elin (Vera Vitali), Einar’s neighbor-across-the street, a single mom who finds herself the unknowing object of EInar’s gaze. All of these characters will connect What Blind does – and does superbly – is put a permeable membrane in place of the seemingly-solid wall of what is and what is not.

As just one example, Ingrid is convinced that, some days, Morten doesn’t leave for work and instead watches her carefully, silently, within their home, a spy in the house of a troubled love. But he doesn’t. But he does. Ingrid can’t be sure, and neither can we. When she hears him tapping on his laptop in bed, is he working, as he says, or e-flirting with his mistress? We have many mechanisms for ‘seeing’ things without seeing them – fantasy, memory, imagination – and all come into play for all the characters here. But if the mind has an eye, that implies both light and shadow, clarity and doubt, in that mental field-of-vision, and that proves fertile soil for Vogt. (There are also similarities to the great, under-seen Australian film Proof (1991), but I digress only to also praise that film, starring Hugo Weaving as a blind photographer ..)

For all of the well-drawn characters and tricky digressions, Blind is both excellently and creatively crafted. The cinematographer, Thimos Bakatakis, is best-known for Dogtooth and Attenberg; like those films, Blind requires images that evoke a world as empirically real as a barked shin and the look and feel of a world that can shift and change with the weird fluidity of a dream as Ingrid envisions possibilities, worst-case scenarios and the possibility of grace. Editor Jens Christian Fodstand and production designer Jorgen Stangebye Larsen also deliver; Fodstand can both keep up with Vogt’s nimble viewpoint and let the scene sit and breathe, and the production design is detailed, exquisite and perfectly in tune with the film’s swirling miasma made up of facts, feelings and fantasies. Equally worthy of note, the sound mix and editing are also excellent; even with all of its deftly-fashioned and deeply-felt voice-over, there are quiet, still moments here that prove how in the hands of great film makers, silence can be a symphony.

Performers Petersen, Rafaelsen, Vitali and Kilbenstvedt are all superb, with special note going to Petersen; it is rare for a female performer to be offered such a complex, challenging, human character as morally, emotionally and intellectually rich as this, and she blends in perfectly with Vogt’s themes and visuals as perfectly as she works opposite her fellow cast members. If it seems I’m being vague about Blind’s construction, conceits and plot beyond the initial set-up, I am; I would no more spoil or blurt out the  film’s more brilliant moments than I could attempt to begin explain them with anything as clumsy as words. Touching, fascinating, perceptive, heartfelt, tough and utterly cinematic, Blind is precisely the kind of film you have – and you need – to see for yourself.