Director: Michael Mailer
Cast: Demi Moore, Alec Baldwin, Dylan McDermott, Steven Prescod, Eden Epstein, Viva Bianca, James McCaffrey
MPAA Rating: (for language including some sexual references, and brief drug use)
Running Time: 1:46
Release Date: 7/14/17 (limited)
Review by Mark Dujsik | July 13, 2017
Sometimes screenwriters don't leave well enough alone. Here, for example, is Blind, which tells the story of a married woman who falls in love with a cynical, widowed man, who happens to be legally blind, while she's working at a center for the visually impaired. There's drama and conflict here, right? Well, they're not enough John Buffalo Mailer's screenplay.
This story also includes a subplot about the woman's husband being in the process of going on trial for some sort of vague financial malfeasance, the blind man's growing friendship with an aspiring writer who looks up to him, that writer's attraction to one of the women who works at the center, and the husband's jealousy turning violent. For good measure, there's also a janitor who keeps showing up for no reason, until he shows up for a good one.
Only one of these subplots actually goes anywhere. In case one is curious, it's the janitor, who isn't even a supporting character and whose occasional appearances aren't even a subplot. The only reason his story comes to a satisfactory conclusion is because of the eventual, violent turn by the woman's husband. In other words, Mailer basically writes in a character to help a situation created by another character's forced transformation, which only happens to add more conflict to this story. One could argue that the janitor is unnecessary. The better argument, perhaps, is that the janitor and the husband's violent jealous streak are unnecessary. If we're going down that route, we might as well include the criminal case and the aspiring writer to that list, too.
The point is that all of these story elements are a distraction from the core story, which is the growing appreciation and budding romance between Suzanne Dutchman (Demi Moore) and Bill Oakland (Alec Baldwin). Suzanne is married to Mark (Dylan McDermott), a Wall Street something-or-other who's doing some shady dealings with stocks involving his and Suzanne's personal bank account. His partner-in-crime gives up Mark's criminal trading after an undercover narcotics bust, and because the account connected to the crime is also in her name, Suzanne is ordered to 100 hours of community service in lieu of going to trial.
She ends up serving her time at the center for the visually impaired, where Bill, a previously successful but now struggling writer who teaches a college-level writing class, goes to have someone read his students' stories. Bill's personality is an acquired taste. He's insulting, crass, and always in a bad mood. At first, Suzanne wants nothing to do with him, but giving up would violate the court order.
Gradually, Bill warms up to her, and at a certain point, she takes off her blouse while reading, because it's hot and Bill doesn't want the distraction of an open window. He notices, of course, and points out that her "pheromones" have changed. This is the movie's idea of what constitutes a charming exchange between two romantic leads. We might buy it, if not for the convoluted nature of the setup or the strange, somewhat creepy word choice on Bill's part. There's nothing natural about it.
There are plenty of awkward moments here. Some of them are just obvious clichés, like how Bill insists on feeling Suzanne's face and how she, in turn, puts on a blindfold so that she can see him as he sees her. Some of them are lines and whole scenes that seem to have been put through some sort of translator. There's a setup for, say, a romantic scene, and it comes out as something laughably corny. The entire subplot involving Gavin (Steven Prescod), the aspiring writer, is like an entirely different—and wholly familiar—movie that has the young man doing household chores for Bill, just for a chance to learn some writing tips from him.
It goes nowhere, and the character is unceremoniously dropped from the story, because Mailer's screenplay spends the entirety of the third act in semi-thriller mode. Despite nearly beating a man to death while in lockup awaiting trial, Mark finds himself back in the world (after the all-too-conveniently accidental death of the star witness—a loaded situation that, once again, seems like an idea that got lost in the constant raising and dropping of other ideas).
There are threats, violence, and the suggestion that something really, really nasty is about to happen. If you've been keeping up with pattern of Blind, it should come as no surprise that the thread comes to a sudden, far too easy resolution without any dramatic consequences or memory of anything that has come before it. That's a good summary of the movie: something of little-to-no consequence, certain to be forgotten almost immediately.
Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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