New York architect Amy Benic (Mira Sorvino) meets blind masseur Virgil Adamson (Val Kilmer) and falls in love. As she learns his lifelong blindness may be curable through experimental surgery, she convinces him to undergo the operation. Virgil then learns vision may not quite be what he expected. At First Sight is directed by Irwin Winkler and also stars Bruce Davison, Nathan Lane, and Kelly McGillis. At First Sight is a romance adapted by writer Steve Levitt based upon the story To See and Not See from noted writer Dr. Oliver Sacks' collection, An Anthropologist on Mars. Dr. Sacks' work is also the basis for the Penny Marshall film Awakenings, starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams and the opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat by Michael Morris with music by Michael Nyman. In his original story, Dr. Sacks tells of receiving a call in October 1991 from a retired minister in the Midwest. His daughter was about to marry a fifty-year old man, Virgil, who had been blind since early childhood. He had thick cataracts and been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a disease which slowly eats away the retinas. As he could still make the distinction between light and dark, it was found he was misdiagnosed and simple cataract extraction could possibly restore his sight. While surgery was a success, Virgil, like his cinematic counterpart, found he would have to learn to use his vision much like an infant would, even though he was adept at relating to the world through touch. In his A New Theory of Vision, written in 1709, George Berkeley concluded there was no necessary connection between a tactile world and a sight world; a connection between them could be established only on the basis of experience. This same story was also adapted into the play Molly Sweeney by Brian Friel.~Ron Wells
AT FIRST SIGHT (1999). In spite of a plodding script and banal dialogue, this movie is very enjoyable for me, because it is well shot visually to convey the story of a blind man (Val Kilmer) and his budding romance with the beautiful Mira Sorvino). It has some beautiful ordinary scenery (a frozen pond, an old rickety house surrounded by old-growth trees, etc.). I liked this film, having seen Mira Sorvino in several other films, some poorly acted (like THE PRESENCE and ANGEL OF DEATH). Mira Sorvino plays these romantic roles best, for example, (LIKE DANDELION DUST (2009), and Best Supporting Actress OSCAR in MIGHTY APHRODITE (1996), and her "fetching beauty" role-playing (plus, some great acting by all three females!) in WISE GIRLS (2002). Mira Sorvino plays this part in AT FIRST SIGHT (1999), beautifully and is believable as the young woman who falls in love with the blind man, Val Kilmer. If you're a Mira Sorvino Fan, this is one of the three best films of her that I have seen out of perhaps 8-9!
Nevertheless, for critics, this is an "unexciting" romance of a movie. I, myself, just personally, like the story and the way the story develops to tell of the difficulties presented through time. I prefer to not judge this film on the basis of "standardized Romance-films," many of the Best being tear-jerkers or pulling certain Romantic heart-strings and/or-emotions. This is NOT one of those -- even if it was made in 1999 as one of that genre. Instead, having seen this film originally in the theatres and on TV several times, a few years apart each time, it holds my attention and pleasure in watching this story unfold each time and being told VISUALLY, not having to read it in printed words, which is an altogether DIFFERENT experience! I don't know of any other similar film because Val Kilmer does a good job with his character, too! -- for my tastes, anyways. This is why I have finally purchased this film on DVD,... Because, I'd like to see it "on-my-demand," whenever I get in the mood, again!