I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 13th-24th.
Directed by Ido Fluk
A disability of any kind affects the way that someone is perceived by those around them. However progressive any given society may be, treatment is still based at least in part on the differing way in which they lead their lives and experience situations as a result. What may not be as obvious is that those afflicted with disabilities or physical restrictions also interact with the world based on the existence of that condition. “The Ticket” tells the story of one man who went blind as a child and then miraculously finds his sight restored. The way in which he deals with that monumental change is at first gracious and inspiring, but quickly turns sour as he realizes how much he believes his literal inability to see has held him back.
“The Ticket” uses a strong visual style - distorted images that can’t be distinguished - to introduce its characters in its first scene, lending some small assist to viewers to comprehend how James (Dan Stevens) experiences the world. His wife Sam (Malin Akerman) is extremely supportive, and the two lead a very happy life with their young son. When James realizes that he can see again, he attacks his job as a phone agent trying to get people to sell their homes for a fraction of the price as an opportunity, immediately moving up the ranks and leaving many elements of his old life, including his coworker and friend Bob (Oliver Platt), who is also blind, behind.
There is a story that James references numerous times throughout this film in which a man prays to God to win the lottery every night for fifty years. The punchline comes when an angel asks God why he wouldn’t grant him that wish, to which God responds, “I’d love to, but he never bought a ticket.” This humorous tale is an anchor for this film, representing James’ new lease on life and the ways in which he abuses it by failing to appreciate the quality of life he had before he was newly able to see. Watching his transformation is unsettling but powerful.
Stevens is well-known for “Downton Abbey, and it’s nice to see that he’s pursuing challenging roles that give him something else to do other than protest the absurdity of the upper class while still being a part of it. Akerman and Platt are both sympathetic as the representatives of James’ earlier life, while Kerry Bishé is particularly great as James’ high-powered alluring work colleague who takes his attention as soon as he can see, a far cry from her neurotic beginnings on “Scrubs.” Despite its optimistic start, this film is not an overly affirming or positive one; rather an intriguing and thought-provoking exploration of privilege and humility.