The Sensation of Sight


Aaron Wiederspahn’s feature debut, The Sensation of Sight, blurs the line between illness—in this case borderline-autism—and plain loneliness, gently suggesting that solitude can often be a malady in itself. In a progression of understated conversations and poetic shots of a muted New Hampshire winter, Sight aligns its perspective with that of Finn, a seemingly autistic high school English teacher played by David Strathairn in a Trilby. Reeling in the wake of a student’s suicide, Finn moves into a B&B and begins wandering the streets, pulling a Radio Flyer laden with encyclopedias and having awkward encounters with old students. Like so many of its indie siblings, Sight revels in quiet, surreally calm dialogue of the “there must be a carbon-monoxide leak somewhere on this set” school. This anaesthetized mood doesn’t lend itself to levity, but for the most part Sight does fine without laughs; it’s moving, occasionally charming, and universally well-acted (Jane Adams is spot-on as an unmoored single mom). But with its pretensions to profundity (floating into gauzy B&W flashbacks, quoting Great Dead White Guys, and subdividing the film into “verses”), the film, like its hero, can get stuck inside its own head. Ruth McCann