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Sundance Review: ‘Blind Date’ Has People Standing… And Leaving Early.

Stanley Tucci directs himself and Patricia Clarkson in a film that might have an audience to find — it just won’t find one here.
By  · Published on January 19th, 2008

There are certain movies that I will see at Sundance this year that will make me feel like such an underling of the film industry — I just won’t understand their appeal and certainly won’t be able to connect with them, or the movies upon which they are based. It’s not a problem though, as I believe most of our readers are the same way — what can I say? We can smell our own.

Stanley Tucci’s directorial effort Blind Date is the perfect example of a film that while I do understand what it is trying to do, it just doesn’t click with me whatsoever. It is based on a film by the late Theo van Gogh, released in 1996, and is adapted to star Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. They play a couple trying to repair a broken marriage after having lived through the death of their young daughter. In order to do deal with their pain, they play out a blind date situation every night as if they are perfect strangers, constantly trying to connect with each other.

It is on par with Steve Buscemi’s flick Interview from last year, but only in the sense that it is a single set, minimalist film. The problem here is that it is in no way engaging. So disengaging in fact, that half of the room got up to leave 20 minutes into the press screening. And even though I had the yearning to go find something better to do, I personally wanted to show respect to the filmmaker and his film, giving it a full opportunity to redeem itself.

Unfortunately, it never really redeems itself, only continuing to bleed out dry dialogue and cause the audience to become more detached from the story, more disinterested in the characters. This is where Interview never wavered; we always wanted to go deeper down the rabbit hole. With Blind Date, we were left wanting to find a wormhole that would suck us out of the theater and into a parallel universe.

Yet, while the film was not enjoyable in the least, I did come to an interesting revelation upon exiting the theater. Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe there is an entire generation of me’s that just won’t get it. Is there some sort of cultural and auteuristic barrier that stands between the average moviegoer and a film like this? There must be — as there were a few critics that clapped at the end of the screening. It leads me to believe that this film is not a total loss. It accomplished something for someone, somewhere — it just didn’t do anything at all for me.

Grade: D+

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)