2016 | DIR. SOPHIE GOODHART | REVIEW BY ALEX MAYNARD.
I can imagine Robbie’s (Scott) disability being insensitively depicted at the hands of a lesser auteur and performer, but here I found that his characterisation was impressively nuanced. Scott has arguably perfected portraying assholes between Step Brothers and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a skill that Robbie’s early scenes wisely allow him to demonstrate. As alluded to above, I was pleased that the humour often stemmed from the rude and obnoxious behaviour of a person who happens to be blind rather than solely making them the butt of a joke, although there are some wickedly funny taboo moments such as an argument between Rose (Slate) and Bill (Kroll) during Robbie’s swimming practice. Yet simultaneously, this decision not to reduce the jokes to simple cheap shots at blindness mirrors Robbie’s own desire not to let his disability define him, which Scott conveys brilliantly in a late dramatic shift. I wasn’t sure whether MY BLIND BROTHER would have time to fully develop the character given its previous attention to the Bill-Rose-Robbie love triangle, but this was definitely a case of better late than never. While Ben Wyatt may still be my favourite Adam Scott role, Robbie sets a new benchmark for his film career.
Conversely, Bill readily defines himself by one thing, or rather, one event: he’s responsible for the accident that caused Robbie’s disability. The film’s first reference to this is mid-conversation, dropped so casually among pick up lines and jokes that viewers might almost miss it. Kroll and Goodhart not only reveal just how Bill’s intense guilt has stayed with him decades later, but also how it’s informed the feeling that he deserves his dead-end life as penance. I loved that these ideas utilised a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach, distinguishing themselves from the myriad tragic backstories in fiction. However, I was disappointed that there weren’t many scenes featuring Bill without Rose or Robbie, leaving details that the film had bothered to introduce such as his job feeling underdeveloped; in my opinion, Bill’s lack of ambition would’ve been better represented if there were a clearer sense of what he forces himself to settle for. Meanwhile, Rose is easily MY BLIND BROTHER’s most frustrating character, veering quickly from relatable uncertainty to baffling decisions. For instance, while Slate convincingly portrays grief and anxiety, I literally rolled my eyes when Rose told Robbie she loved him. The contradiction I perceived between her feelings and actions was unfortunately never resolved, and perhaps explains why the film’s ending came across as inconsequential.
MY BLIND BROTHER ambles along steadily, thankfully retaining its leads’ charm without their lack of direction. Although its arcs aren’t as carefully considered as the balance between humour and drama, the stellar performances from Kroll, Slate, and particularly Scott will please anyone thinking of giving it a look.