Alec Baldwin has been getting plenty of attention lately for his stint as President Trump on “SNL”, as host of the revival of “Match Game” and as the voice of “The Boss Baby” for DreamWorks – three comedy-oriented gigs. But Baldwin can be just as effective, at times even more so, as a serious, dramatic actor. Supporting roles in 2014’s “Still Alice” and 2015’s “Concussion” are recent proof.
It takes a while to get used to Baldwin as a blind writer/professor in the new indie drama “Blind”. His Bill Oakland is charismatic, sarcastic and at times, obnoxious, as he interacts with employees at, and visitors to, his office at the Beacon Center of the Blind in NYC. Bill counts on volunteers to read his students’ writing samples to him, so he can grade them. But because of his prickly personality these helpers normally don’t last too long.
A new assistant comes into Bill’s life. Suzanne Dutchman (played by Demi Moore) is the socialite wife of Wall Street mogul Mark Dutchman (Dylan McDermott). He’s facing a prison time for insider trading. She’s sentenced to 100 hours of community service and is paired-up with Bill. As a team this sad, disillusioned pair gets off to a rocky start. But it soon becomes pretty obvious where all this going, not just for the audience, but for the suspicious Mark. This unconventional relationship triangle is the core of the film.
It’s taken some time for “Blind” to finally get released. The movie was shot in the Fall of 2015. Its world premiere came at the Woodstock Film Festival in October 2016. Vertical Entertainment acquired the distribution rights four months later. And now, July 2017, it’s finally in theaters (with an At Home release already scheduled for August).
Was it worth the wait? Unfortunately, even with the solid performances, it’s never a challenge to figure out where “Blind” is headed. The script that largely plays-out like a Lifetime movie. There’s a tepid tone throughout, only occasionally interrupted by a few bursts of energy in the form of characters boiling over in anger and/or frustration.
Baldwin and Moore have a soothing, comfortable chemistry (the two reunite here after working together on 1996’s “The Juror”). They provide for the kind of calm, authentic, adult on-screen relationship that’s rare on-screen these days. If “Blind” had a bigger budget and a more modern, challenging script, their romance undoubtedly would’ve been exploited, thus eliminating its subtle charm. And McDermott provides just enough menace and tension as the grim, manipulative husband.
Then there’s the score. Forget that there are times the music selections are completely out of sync with specific scenes, the soundtrack includes a duet involving one of the most iconic actors of all-time – Robert Redford.
Initial stories reported that Redford would perform two songs in “Blind”, but only one made the final cut. It’s a duet with Sasha Lazard (wife of the film’s director, Michael Mailer, who’s the son of famed novelist Norman Mailer). It’s a romantic ditty called “Bird in a Cage”. “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips is on guitar. And yes, it’s all as bizarre as it sounds.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Blind” gets a C+.
“Blind” opens in Limited Release on July 14th. Running Time: 106 min.