Jenny Slate, Adam Scott and Nick Kroll reunite to star in My Blind Brother, a romantic dramedy, that spends most of its eighty-five-minute runtime trying to decide exactly what kind of story it wants to be. Expanding from a 2001 screenplay that that became a short film in 2003, writer and director, Sophie Goodhart adds an intriguing twist to the age-old sibling rivalry narrative — how the stakes are changed when one sibling is disabled.
Scott plays Robbie. A character similar to his role a la Step Brothers, as the overachieving, pompous golden child who lost his sight at an early age but is still determined to perform athletic feats that are daunting even to those with all of their senses. Kroll is cast as Bill. The unambitious older brother with a deadpan style of humor whose lot in life is to be Robbie’s seeing-eye dog, treading each mile alongside his brother, but is ironically unseen. Slate is added to the mix as Rose, an overly neurotic girl with an edge of self-importance combined with self-deprecation. Slate attempts to redeem herself after drunkenly sleeping with Kroll the night she meets him at her boyfriend’s funeral, by dedicating herself to those less fortunate and surprise, surprise she is paired with Scott to train for his latest athletic endeavor. The brothers vie for Slate’s romantic attention throughout the movie, while providing fascinating social commentary on the world’s view and treatment of the disabled.
Goodhart, whose sister was diagnosed with MS, brings a strikingly honest, yet rarely touched point to light: That those labeled “normal” are at times jealous of people with disabilities, who are more often than not, much more self-aware than the world wants to give them credit for. In this same vein, the film’s greatest strength lies in its authentic relatability that more than once had the entire screening room laugh, gasp, or groan because we had all been in the situation portrayed at least once.
Having said that, as the story progresses viewers are left to wonder how many scenes were left on the cutting room floor. It feels as though parts of the story were dropped that force the audience to make generous and at times confusing jumps and assumptions. Although Slate, Scott, and Kroll deliver their standard great performances (Scott plays an incredibly believable blind man) and are supported by a mostly strong cast (Zoe Kazan kills as Slate’s best friend/roommate), the plot grows too diluted to be pinpointed as a romance, comedy, drama, or message movie. This in turn bleeds into the character development leaving many of its roles underdeveloped. And while Slate and Kroll are likable as ever and do have several charming moments scattered throughout the story, they lack the sexual chemistry needed to drive their plotline as a destined couple.
Even considering its pitfalls My Blind Brother is worth the price of a movie ticket. Through dark humor, twisted with the more mundane aspects of human triumph, the film provides a solid emotional journey that holds a mirror up to its audience, even if that reflection doesn’t occur until after you leave the theater.
The film is now playing!