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Blood Brother Plays Out as Another Narcissistic Travelogue

<i>Blood Brother</i> Plays Out as Another Narcissistic Travelogue

Western literature is filled with novels, memoirs, and travelogues by and about white men who, seeking adventure or a deeper sense of self, travel the world to some exotic endpoint filled with dusky people who impart spiritual wisdom and share cultural practices that deliver each white man to a more "authentic" version of himself.

He, of course, positions himself—and is celebrated as—the dusky people's champion and savior. The documentary Blood Brother is the 21st-century hipster remix of this time-honored narrative.

A Sundance Film Festival hit (of course), Blood tracks the journey of twentysomething Pittsburgh native and graphic designer Rocky Braat who, while working in India, stumbled over a home for children with HIV/AIDS and knew he'd found his home and calling. The film, directed by Braat's longtime friend Steve Hoover (who shot it with a golden-hued vibrancy that makes even poverty look like a blessing), tracks our hero as he doles out medicine, teaches the kids English, leads sing-alongs, roughhouses with his charges, and leads them in chants of "I was always beautiful."

Location Info

Map

Landmark Sunshine Cinema

143 E. Houston St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Lower East Side

Details

Blood Brother
Directed by Steve Hoover
Opens October 18, Village East



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There are lots of images of him looking forlornly into the camera or off into the distance when he's not gushing inanities about the spiritual and cultural superiority of his new home. Neither the film nor Braat gives any political, cultural, or historical context or analysis of anything shown onscreen—poverty, beauty, illness. While Braat isn't the Ugly American, he is its obnoxious cousin, the Clueless Yank. It's not until late in the film that he bothers to put the home in the context of the larger village that houses it, and that's only because of the villagers' bigoted response upon learning that the kids have HIV/AIDS. (Their reaction is appropriately denounced by Braat, but the film tells nothing of how or if the tensions are resolved.)

There are undoubtedly several moving moments in the film, and the kids are gorgeous and heartbreaking, but none of that is strong enough to balance Braat's galling and enabled narcissism, which pervades the film.



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9 comments
TedFLEM
TedFLEM

Interesting that the very first sentence in this review finds itself telling us what color the guy in the documentary is. His skin color has nothing to do with the film. I don't see the guy as a color, or even a hero, really. It's a guy whose choice to do what he did fascinated someone else enough to make a documentary about. The guy is playful, young at heart, and learning the ropes of this life he has begun to live. How dark does one's heart have to be to call this young guy a narcissist? At one point he calls himself "arrogant" in the way he calls kids out when they get a little rowdy. He also refers to himself as an idiot, a moron. The director asks him to explain the experience and the home, and he does. I call him, not a hero (though compared to me he certainly is), but I call him lucky. Pretty lucky when you have it in you to abandon the amenities of the world's richest nation to give his youth and strength to children in poverty who have HIV/AIDS. Give your life away, why don't you, and have some critic worry about the color of your skin and call you a narcissist. I can't imagine walking in this man's shoes. Nor can I imagine what kind of darkness causes somebody to watch this and conclude the guy is a narcissist. Is Rocky a hero? That's up to you. I call him lucky. I call the film critic unlucky.

simonpetereater
simonpetereater

Ernest - the problem here is you have given a critic more of a person than the film. Someone once said that "when we judge a person's motive, we give permission to let them judge our own motive". I have no idea what your motive is for judging Rocky, nor do I know what Rocky's motive is for loving these kids or Steve for making the film. But after watching this film - I do see children that have been rejected by others being loved and feeling loved. Thus, my heart motivates me to want to do more for the unloved in society after watching this film. 

footay
footay

Shorter Ernest Hardy - This film made me feel bad about my own character and actions.  Therefore, I have decided to say negative things about it.

TheMatt11
TheMatt11

This review is laughable and does not accurately depict the film at all. To say that Rocky is narcissistic is just untrue and irresponsible. Maybe this film wasn't what you thought it would be or thought what it should be, but your tirade is totally off base. Go see the film for yourself and be the judge. Do not take this review seriously.

drm42
drm42

This is one of the most idiotic, cynical & CLUELESS critiques I've ever read.  Cynicism is easy.  The points you made don't even deserve a response.  You obviously missed so much else you must have your head up your arse.  Don't give up the day job Erny

cooganalaska
cooganalaska

I also disagree with Ernest Hardy's essay.   I just don't see how Rocky's loving care (and exposure to) the little boy Surya could be described as narcissistic.   I believe Hardy's essay is a cynical distortion of the young man's true endeavor.   Living as he does, immersed in the lives of the children, just does not seem contrived or temporal.     

kfaeldon04
kfaeldon04

It seems as if you went to watch this film with biased opinions already. Yes, he is a white man that travelled to find "himself" and find "meaning in his life" and you know what? he did! He is not portrayed as the white savior you talk about, he is portrayed as a brother/father to those children and women in the orphanage. He wasn't just one of these travelers who stop by days or weeks at a time. He was there to stay and he proved that by coming back every single time. Yes he does have moments "looking forlornly into the camera and into the distance", so what!? After experiencing what his going through when your not familiar with these hardships, I thinks it's only fair for him to behave this way. His also constantly being filmed, so I doubt he had much privacy. Anyways when he was having his moments and gathering his thought, the film watchers also needed time to digest what they saw. The film is definitely heartwarming. Watch the film!

FunnyBoy
FunnyBoy

Wow, COMPLETELY disagree.  This critic seems to have expected a different film than the one he walked into, and couldn't come to terms with the fact that what he saw was not what he expected.  Go see this film and judge for yourself.

 

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