Film

‘Best and Most Beautiful Things’ Studies a Blind BDSM Woman’s Fight Against ‘Normal’

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Best and Most Beautiful Things is a study in isolation as much as a profile of its subject, a young, legally blind woman named Michelle Smith living with Asperger’s.

Garrett Zevgetis’s documentary follows Smith mostly after her graduation from high school, the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, and her return home to Maine. Helen Keller is like an uncredited shadow: She, too, went to Perkins, and the title borrows from her quote, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.”

But Smith and Keller are worlds apart. Keller, a prolific author and lecturer, came from a well-connected Southern family and traveled the world, trafficking in optimistic can-doism (and socialism). Smith, from a loving but fractured working-class home, struggles to keep a job and live independently. She displays a quick wit, a powerful mind and a knack for eloquent and even triumphant argumentation, but is easily derailed. She talks up a tentative Los Angeles internship for months, and it evaporates. Smith’s experiments with and activism in the BDSM community, part of her campaign against “normal,” begin to occupy much of her time.

The doc is gorgeously filmed, well edited, and works in close-up, but the result is more voyeuristic than revealing, except to show that desolation is among those things that cannot be seen or touched.

Best and Most Beautiful Things

Directed by Garrett Zevgetis

First Run Features

Opens December 2, Cinema Village

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