Blind Company is adapted from Austin Pendleton’s stage production Uncle Bob. Nick Barkla who plays Josh in Blind Company met Austin Pendleton while studying acting at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, an ensemble-based film company of actors, writers and directors. Barkla won the 2007 AFI fellowship of $20,000 to observe their collaborative method of working – an approach that led directly to the making of this film. When Barkla returned to Australia he produced the play and acted in it for Red Stitch Theatre Company.
Director Alkinos Tsilimidos saw the production in Melbourne and became interested in writing the adaptation. Tsilimidos had worked with both Nick Barkla and Colin Friels on previous films, such as Tom White and Em4Jay. Tsilimidos states his interest in the film is due to its exploration of people “who have given up on the world,”
Story: Geoff Brewster has retreated to the family’s isolated, coastal shack to die in peace. He is also going blind. Geoff spends his days walking on the beach and leaving tape-recorded confessions to his estranged wife, Sally.
But Geoff’s solitude is interrupted when his Porsche driving nephew, Josh, turns up and decides to stay. Tension fills the shack as Josh’s strange behaviour sets Geoff on edge and when Sally arrives for her weekly cleaning, the shack is ready to explode. Sally encourages Geoff to audition for an amateur production of Hamlet and Geoff takes to Hamlet like Olivier.
But Geoff goes totally blind. The arrival of two strangers bearing the ashes of one of Geoff’s lovers sets Geoff and Josh on a collision course that threatens to destroy the both of them.
Blind Company was adapted from Austin Pendleton’s stage production Uncle Bob, that was set in New York. Quite the difference in location from Tasmania.
“Quiet and inexorable, occasionally awkward, Blind Company leaves gaps and ambiguities, but it’s stronger for the fact that it’s prepared to withhold and defer its drama.” Philippa Hawker, The Age