Jared McMillan // Film Critic

Rated R, 85 min.
Director: Sophie Goodhart
Cast: Nick KrollAdam ScottJenny Slate and Zoe Kazan

There are a lot of comedies/dramedies that have been produced lately that bring to light people with disabilities. From THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING to ABC’s newest hit SPEECHLESS, there is a growing sentiment to bring the realization that those with impairments or disability have the same feelings and emotions as anyone that is “normal.” It’s a fine line to walk, as one wrong plot point or development can lead to manipulating the audience’s emotions or caricaturizing the reality of the portrayed disability.

In Sophie Goodheart’s feature debut, MY BLIND BROTHER, Bill (Nick Kroll) has become a surrogate of sorts for his brother, Robbie (Adam Scott), a blind man who has dedicated his life as an athlete to raise money for charity. Bill reaches his limit in being his brother’s eyes during these competitions, leading Robbie to hire a volunteer in Rose (Jenny Slate). Complications arise when they start dating, but only after Bill and Rose had a one-night stand. The sibling rivalry comes to a boil as they try for Rose’s affections.

Originally a 2003 short by Goodheart, MY BLIND BROTHER uses a lot of familiarity in its storytelling, but it doesn’t forsake the actual emotions they have in order to play up Robbie’s disability. In fact, Robbie is a complete jock in the worst sense, manipulating his brother as well as the public. The movie plays it safe in its course, which is a shame considering the comedic talent. However, it isn’t about a happy ending but rather these individuals coming to a resolution with their flaws, and makes for a charming movie to watch.

Read our SXSW interview with filmmaker Sophie Goodhart here.

Rated R, 105 min.
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Ange Dargent, Théophile Baquet, Diane Besnier and Audrey Tautou

Michel Gondry is known for his visual sense of storytelling, creating an originality to highlight the presentation and make an impact; this is especially prevalent in ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and BE KIND REWIND. It’s a surrealism that is grounded in innocence and purity, an oneiric lens to translate a piece of the director that’s given to the viewer.

His style has gotten away from him in his past narrative films, going more into the surrealism and forgetting to ground it through its subtext. In other words, the plane landed but it had some turbulence during the flight. However, Gondry has returned to form in the pleasantly surprising French tale MICROBE & GASOLINE.

Daniel (Ange Dargent) is an aspiring artist and the target of bullies; Theo (Theophile Baquet) is the new kid in town. They develop a friendship as they are drawn to their unique personalities and views of the world. The two of them get an idea to build a moving house and go on a road trip immersed in fun and personal growth. Anchored by charming performances from Dargent and Baquet, the movie is hampered at times by languid pacing. However, it’s a solid coming-of-age tale that opts for whim and still feels authentic thanks to its frank dialogue.

MY BLIND BROTHER and MICROBE & GASOLINE are available now on various VOD platforms.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.