Film reviews and more since 2009

Sight (2024) review

Dir. Andrew Hyatt

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★★★

Not even the dubious “pay it forward” grifting scheme from Angel Studios can lessen the well-rounded and important story told in their latest film, Sight. Following their sex trafficking screed last Fourth of July, and one of the worst multiverse movies yet to be made in The Shift, the hard-earned dollars from the “Angel Guild” — the studio’s moniker for their streaming subscribers and crowdfunding contributors — has been put to a level-headed story of a prodigal doctor’s quest for perfection in a field that’s still not an exact science, no matter how much brain trust is behind it.

Sight tells the true story (“approved” by the Angels Guild, we’re told!) of Dr. Ming Wang (Terry Chen). We first see Dr. Wang addressing a congregation of media personnel following a successful laser eye surgery, one of the first of its kind. Now, he’s faced with an even tougher challenge in repairing the eyesight of a young Indian orphan named Kajal (Mia SwamiNathan), who travels to the US all the way from Calcutta after her guardian splashed sulfuric acid in her eyes, effectively blinding her. Flashbacks tell the story of Wang’s childhood, a Chinese immigrant growing up with Cultural Revolutionaries disrupting his education, and coercing him to join the fight. With his family pressured to leave the country, and the subsequent disappearance of his first love, Lili (Sara Ye), Wang feverishly applies himself to his studies, with his heart set on medical school.

In the present timeline, Dr. Wang is struggling with the weight of an orphan’s wish to see again in his hands. His partner, Dr. Misha Bartnovsky (Greg Kinnear), does everything a right-hand-man can, but Dr. Wang is prone to multi-day work binges and shouldering stress all by himself. Writers Andrew Hyatt (also director), John Duigan, and Buzz McLaughlin deftly handle the incorporation of Wang’s childhood via flashbacks. Working off of Dr. Wang’s autobiography, From Darkness to Sight, they create a compelling story of a man’s struggle with the dual losses of love and home, and his present challenges as a doctor limited by what’s medically feasible.

Amidst Sight‘s lessons in perseverance, determination, and working late hours leading to good things, there is a rarer, more honest moral in this movie. It’s one explored in one of my favorite Simpsons episodes, “Bart Gets an F,” for you superfans out there. The moral is that you can try your hardest at something. You can put in double the hours of a more successful contemporary, or apply yourself in ways you’ve never done in the past, and you can still fail. You can try your best, and your best might not be good enough. Granted, I had to learn this lesson in my high school geometry and trigonometry classes. A young girl’s hopes to see weren’t weighing on me each and every work day. No less, it’s an important concept for kids and adults alike; one not easily digestible in America’s “if at first you don’t succeed…” culture of hard work always rewarding, no exceptions.

Terry Chen is immensely likable as Dr. Wang. Ben Wang, who plays his younger counterpart, displays a gift for not only being adorably curious but quietly somber. Kinnear is mostly here as an affirmative source of companionship for Dr. Chen, always quick to suggest drinks after work, but he again gifts a faith-based film a level of prestige and acting acumen that’s foreign to many works of the genre. That’s right, there is a conversion subplot in this movie, but it’s so casually handled, that the pleasantly brief 95-minute runtime doesn’t waste precious plotting proselytizing to viewers in the usual manner.

Tis pity Sight ends with Angel Studios up to their usual business of having its star (in this case, the real-life Dr. Ming Wang) asserting to viewers that this is a story important enough for them to use their increasingly waning take-home-pay to purchase tickets for others. I suppose, now having seen four of the studio’s films in theaters, this will become standard for their releases going forward. Remember when faith-based movies used to provide you with links to the organizations for which they profiled in the movie? I guess that’s my job now. Read more about Dr. Ming Wang’s “Wang Foundation” here.

NOTE: Sight is now playing exclusively in theaters.

Starring: Terry Chen, Greg Kinnear, Natasha Mumba, Finnula Flanagan, Ben Wang, Mia SwamiNathan, and Sara Ye. Directed by: Andrew Hyatt.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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