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The independent comedy film has long been populated by quirky types with peculiar characteristics, though in recent years, as indie films gain a lot more traction, many have become home to more recognizable names with less eccentric types. With My Blind Brother, there is a bit of both, with brothers who are polar opposites bound by an accident that has shaped both lives in very different ways.
Bill (Nick Kroll) is stuck in a dead-end job as a manager of a print and copy store who lives in the shadow of his brother Robbie (Adam Scott), who has turned his accidental blindness into a crusade, physically challenging himself to accomplish predominately hardcore athletic achievements. The latest is a marathon and while the crowd cheers and the newscasters swoon, beside him, Bill serves as the thankless guide, steering Robbie for the duration. At a ceremony afterwards, while throngs celebrate Robbie’s success, he praises everyone, including God, but leaves out Bill. This is not the first time, nor the last.
The key here is guilt. Bill feels responsible for his brother’s situation and so has silently accepted his fate as the invisible brother. But it has never affected him so much as the day he meets Robbie’s new volunteer guide. Her name is Rose (Jenny Slate), a girl with her own personal demons, but more so, the one with whom Bill had just had a one-night stand. Unfortunately, she rejected him afterwards. Now, as both boys develop feelings for her, Rose gets a few pangs of her own and a new competition begins.
Written and directed by Sophie Goodhart, My Blind Brother, despite the comedy cast, is anything but funny, but in a good way. While there are a few laughs, mostly with how Bill and Rose use Robbie’s blindness to create and maintain a sort of secret relationship right under Robbie’s nose, who believes Rose is his girlfriend, this is actually a far more complex story. The weight bearing down on Bill is palpable throughout and the genuine display of attraction that draws him and the frail Rose together is surprisingly affecting.
What separates this from the expected is the way Goodhart rather daringly paints Robbie as the villain of the story, making him a self-righteous jerk with a stinging sense of entitlement. Naturally, he has a right to be bitter, but the scathing, underhanded verbal abuse he directs at his brother endears Bill more to us, and somehow, it doesn’t feel forced or for a laugh. It feels earned.
My Blind Brother is a sharply-written, well-directed film that may have a few tonal issues but is a solid piece of entertainment, led by two natural performances from Kroll and Slate.
Director: Sophie Goodhart
Writer: Sophie Goodhart
Stars: Adam Scott, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate
Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy