February 7, 2019  (Web Review)

Shadow Girl

(2017) 75 min. DVD: $89: public libraries; $395: colleges & universities. Women Make Movies. PPR. Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

At age seven, María Teresa Larraín’s mother took her to the optometrist in Chile where María was told that she had progressive myopia and would one day go blind. Fast forward approximately 50 years to Toronto where Larraín, an independent filmmaker who has lived in Canada for many years, begins losing her eyesight. This very personal film documents Larraín’s increasing blindness as she struggles to cope with and accept her deteriorating condition. In voiceover narration and through casual conversations, Larraín talks about her disability as we watch her interact with friends, family, and others. When she is denied disability benefits in Canada, she returns to her native Chile where blind street vendors in Santiago help her come to terms with her sightlessness. Occasional camera techniques, including blurred and shadowed images, help us see the world through Larraín’s perspective. Larraín eventually returns to Canada to appeal her social assistance case and travels to Costa Rica to visit her grandchildren. Occasionally the film meanders, but the relaxed pace gives viewers more time to empathize with Larraín’s situation as she struggles to maintain her dignity, independence, and career. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (S. Beauregard)