My Blind Brother

(USA 2016)

Robbie (Adam Scott) and Bill (Nick Kroll) are brothers. Robbie is an overachieving athlete—attractive, admired, and blind. He’s also kind of a dick in private. Bill dutifully assists Robbie with his athletic endeavors, holding a string to guide him as he runs marathons and rowing in front of him with a blowhorn as he swims. Admittedly lazy, Bill fantasizes about being disabled and having everyone wait on him while he watches TV all day.

WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead!

One night while their parents are fawning over Robbie after a race, Bill goes out by himself for a drink at a local bar where unbeknownst to him a memorial is being held for a guy who was killed when a bus hit him. Bill meets Rose (Jenny Slate), who’s crying because she feels guilty about it—she dumped him right before it happened. They introduce themselves: she’s a “superficial narcissist” and he’s “lazy and judgmental.” They talk, and she tells him she wants to be a better person—maybe helping baby elephants in Africa or something. Rose ends up going home with Bill. In a very uncomfortable scene, she extricates herself from his room and takes off the next morning, roughly declining Bill’s request for her phone number.

Soon after, Robbie hooks up with a volunteer to help him with swimming, something Bill doesn’t want to do. Turns out, there’s a spark between Robbie and this volunteer—who Bill discovers is Rose.

Writer and director Sophie Goodhart does a capable job on both fronts, even if My Blind Brother takes a little while to get its stride and feels a bit like a TV show. The story moves steadily once it gets going, though the ending is predictable—including its reveal of how Robbie lost his sight. There are more than a few genuinely funny moments here. I love that all of the characters are detestable, or at least nothing to aspire to, for one reason or another—even Robbie, who from an outside perspective seems inspirational with his fundraising through athletics. It doesn’t take long to see that he’s lame, right down to the same flimsy joke about looking beautiful that he repeats to every woman (because he’s blind and can’t see, get it?). Slate does neurotic frazzled really well. Charlie Hewson as blind stoner GT and Zoe Kazan as Rose’s quick and loyal but cynical roommate Francie both add a breath of fresh air. Filmed in and around the West Side of Cleveland, Ohio—where I grew up—I immediately noticed exterior shots in Tremont, Lakewood, and I’m pretty sure Rocky River.

85 minutes
Rated R

(Facets) C+

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