The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Making a movie about a blind man and calling it Blind seems a bit obvious. Then again, that's pretty appropriate, given that everything that happens here is obvious, right down to the moment where the man's love interest blindfolds herself and touches his face because, “I want to see how you see.” Were it not for three well-known lead actors, this film probably would have turned up on the Lifetime channel instead of in theaters.

Demi Moore plays Suzanne, the neglected wife of wealthy NYC businessman Mark Dutchman (Dylan McDermott). When Mark is indicted in an embezzling scheme, Suzanne gets sentenced to community service because her name was on the same bank account where he deposited the cash. Her task is to read to blind, widowed novelist/professor Bill Oakland (Alec Baldwin). He's irascible, initially giving her a hard time. She wears down his defenses, and eventually they fall in love. When Mark begins to suspect this – despite no concrete evidence, given that he's in jail – he sets out to tear them apart.

For the first two-thirds of its running time, Blind is a pretty routine romantic drama. Baldwin and Moore both do good work in a story that contrives to get the couple together, then contrives some more to put their relationship to the test. Nothing about the movie ever deviates from the well-worn formula. The sporadic pleasures are Baldwin's sharp delivery of Bill's most sarcastic lines, and Moore playing a wounded character with admirable subtlety. Otherwise, it's predictable fluff all the way.

The final third is what finally sinks the film. Mark is a one-dimensional character to begin with. Abruptly turning him into a violent borderline psychopath feels like little more than a lame excuse to create some late-game drama. A weird Deus ex machina involving the character's prison sentence is similarly hard to swallow. These things improbably lead to a final scene between Bill and Suzanne that is almost laughable in the way it manipulates itself into something “meaningful.”

Writer John Buffalo Mailer's screenplay seems to be more influenced by other movies than by actual human interaction. Everything about it feels calculated, as though the romantic drama template was studied and then slavishly replicated. The sluggish direction by Mailer's brother Michael does the script no favors. Everything moves so slowly that you have more than enough time to figure out what's going to happen long before it actually does.

Baldwin and Moore are the only unequivocally positive elements in Blind. (McDermott overacts, because the plot requires him to.) There is an attempt here to say something about how damaged people can learn to fix themselves once removed from life's negative influences and moved toward positive ones. What the film says and how it says it will come as a surprise to no one, thanks to routine, unimaginative execution.

( 1/2 out of four)

Blind is rated R for language including some sexual references, and brief drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.

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