Starring: Sidney Poitier, Elizabeth Hartman, Shelley Winters
Director: Guy Green
Running Time: 105 mins
A Patch Of Blue is an American film about a blind and illiterate white woman who befriends an intellectual black man, who helps her escape the struggles of her impoverished and abusive home life.
This is a really beautiful film. A mellow, tempered rollercoaster of emotions that tugs at your heartstrings throughout, A Patch Of Blue is a deeply moving watch, and a film that gives a powerful insight into the meaning of friendship, independence and tolerance.
Often turning on a dime between soaring and uplifting emotion and devastating, heartbreaking drama, this is by no means the easiest watch in the world. However, the film uses its striking dramatic contrasts to incredible effect, in turn heightening the emotional power of what, on the surface at least, looks like a fairly simple tale of friendship.
The relationship betweeen Sidney Poitier and Elizabeth Hartman is truly wonderful to watch unfold. On a superficial level, it’s a wonderfully uplifting tale of a woman beginning to see the world for herself, with the help of a caring and kind-hearted friend.
Yet if you dig a little deeper, their relationship is even more complex. Set against the background of racial segregation, the strength of the bond between Hartman and Poitier is powerfully unique.
While Hartman benefits from Poitier’s friendship in being able to learn about the wider world and escape her difficult life, Poitier equally benefits through a friendship unlike any other he’s had, with Hartman’s affections for him entirely genuine.
But even more so, the mentor-mentee nature of their relationship creates complications, and although their bond is strong, the imbalance between them means that something deeper and more passionate is almost unreachable, striking up powerfully bittersweet emotion in the final act in particular.
That’s what I really loved about A Patch Of Blue. On the surface, it’s such a wonderful, blissfully simple film about friendship, and that’s what makes it such a pleasant and moving watch. But also, there’s real complexity to their story, offering up riveting and bittersweet emotional and thematic depth that makes the film all the more captivating.
Meanwhile, the harsh reality of Hartman’s home life contrasts in striking fashion with her friendship with Poitier. Her days out in the park with him seem like a dream compared to the terror of life with an abusive and controlling mother, but that change from such devastating, heartbreaking drama to moments of pure bliss only deepens the sense of joy and wonder in the central friendship.
And the cherry on top of the cake is the film’s score, which perfectly embodies that sense of wonder while easing the transition between the darker and happier moments.
Playing out like a lullaby, it’s a major part of the film’s elegant atmosphere, but it most importantly deepens the dreamlike wonder of the time that Hartman and Poitier spend together. It’s a small detail that you might not notice consciously, but it plays a huge part in making this film so genuinely beautiful.
Overall, I absolutely adored A Patch Of Blue. A captivating, moving film that brilliantly blends soaring, heartwarming emotion with devastating, heartbreaking drama, it’s a truly powerful watch from start to finish.
Its wonderfully elegant atmosphere is a joy, while its story of a blissful friendship is a delight, yet with enough complexity and depth to offer up striking and thought-provoking drama throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving A Patch Of Blue an 8.6.