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IFC Midnight
Reviewed for &, linked from Rotten Tomatoes by Harvey Karten
Director: Randall Okita
Screenwriter: Adam Yorke, Tommy Gushue
Cast: Skyler Davenport, Kim Coates, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Pascal Langdale, Joe Pingue, George Tchortov, Laura Vandervoort
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 11/17/21
Opens: January 7, 2021

The home-invasion thriller “See for Me” has female empowerment written all over it. For one, the principal performer, Skyler Davenport in the role of Sophie, is visually impaired. Because of a pair of strokes, she became legally blind. Then she resisted the traditional advice “learn braille and get a live-in assistant” and instead pursued an acting career. For another, her character in the film is also blind, an unusual situation since seeing actors would usually play the visually impaired. Consider Stephen Lang, for example, in the 2016 movie “Don’t Breathe” and Arthur Kennedy in the 1942 movie “Bright Victory,” a sighted actor performing in the role of a person who lost his eyesight from a German sniper bullet. John Garfield is blinded in battle in “Pride of the Marines” but saw just fine in real life. While we’re at it, how about “Hush” (2016) wherein a deaf and mute woman living in the woods is threatened with murder when a man appears at the window. The actress Kate Siegel is perfectly normal.

Now a woman with a serious disability struggles against a group of home invaders in “See For Me,” directed by Randall Okita, whose “The Lockpicker” focuses on a teenage thief seeking to escape violence. (“See for Me” is his sophomore full-length film.) His character, Sophie, played by Davenport, may lack sight but she comes across more empowered than most sighted women on the big screen, but don’t think Sophie is as pure as the snow that will likely soon fall on a secluded mansion in upstate New York. Deborah (Laura Vandervoot), a rich woman who “married for maturity, not for money” hires her as a cat sitter when she embarks on a trip, somehow thinking a blind sitter is better than a kennel. Sophie, a skier before losing her sight and giving up the sport, is watched over by a helicopter mother who is suspicious that Sophie deposited $4200 in her account after her last job. (Maybe she had to take care of a trio of pit bulls for that kind of money.) When Sophie goes outside for a breath of chilled air, she is locked out and must download an app called “See for Me,” which features phone workers who, guided by the impaired persons’ cell phones, tells them how to get around and, in this case, how to sneak back into the use using the sliding doors.

She lucks out, then, with Kelly (Jessica Parker Kennedy), an army veteran, who becomes wrapped up in her client when Sophie is confronted by a trio of burglars. She wins their support by methods that should not be revealed here, since her technique is the major twist of the film.

Though there are many plot holes, starting with how she wins employment to sit for cats when so many sighted people might be better qualified, ending with a police siren in the middle of the night with no traffic, warning any perps who might be up to no good. Nonetheless, Sophie, like her performer Davenport, is not the type to play it safe with the bandits, an action that would have saved her life. Therein lies a thriller which, if you suspend disbelief, meaning just forget about how things would have really turned out, can put you on the platitudinous edge of you seat.

92 minutes. © 2021 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting –B+
Technical – B+
Overall -B+

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Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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