Movie Review: “Colorblind” takes its metaphor ever-so-seriously

“Colorblind” is a heavy-handed melodrama about race that never overcomes the air of “student film” that its many ways of underscoring its lone metaphor provide.

It’s about a Black artist who suffers from colorblindness, a trait she has passed on to her son. Her life lessons to him include “You don’t want to show anyone your weakness.”

So we’ve got a painter who can’t distinguish most colors — something underscored with visuals seen from her almost-monochromatic point of view — who tries to hide that from those who might buy her canvases, and a child who learns to keep their shared secret.

They face overt racism in the unnamed big city they’ve just moved into, harassment from profiling cops and overt hostility from their new landlord, a retired firefighter who rented to them, sight unseen, and takes an instant dislike to them both.

He’s the sort of retired firefighter who plays romantic classical etudes on his piano and keeps a dead cotton plant as decor, so he can pluck off cotton balls to give our working mom to underscore a racist point.

Watermelon isn’t on-the-nose-enough for him, I guess.

And let’s name our heroine Magdalene because everything else here points to judging someone by appearance through one’s own warped view of the world.

Every lesson Mom (Chantel Riley) has to teach her boy Monet (Trae Maridadi) about race and how to manage their sight limitations and keeping their distance from the bigot upstairs hews to the film’s narrow, broken-record messaging.

Every moment the kid spends with the “Giant” racist makes you wince at its obviousness.

“So, paint can mix, but not people?”

“Well, they can, but they shouldn’t.”

Every misunderstanding is foreshadowed as if a student screenwriter has just learned the term in Screenwriting 201. Every “coincidence” is worth a grimace.

The characters are archetypes, the performances similarly one-dimensional or, in a couple of cases, seriously inexperienced.

“Colorblindness” is the sort of well-intentioned picture on a heavy subject that could make the rounds of little-known film festivals and collect awards, which it has. But if it isn’t a simplistic, ham-fisted student film, it sure as hell plays like one.

Rating: unrated, violence, profanity

Cast: Chantel Riley, Trae Maridadi, Garry Chalk and Mike Dopud

Credits: Directed by Mostafa Keshvari, scripted by Mostafa Keshvari and Selina Williams. An Eldon Road release.

Running time: 1:28


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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