Linas Phillips has one creditable accomplishment in Rainbow Time, which he wrote and directed: his portrayal of a developmentally delayed forty-year-old man. Far from the angelic innocents often played by neurotypical actors, Phillips’s Shonzi is a crude, grounded, fully realized character who experiences more than the usual number of daily boners for a middle-aged man. Lacking the sophistication to distinguish between confidence and sexual harassment, the high-functioning Shonzi’s developmental delay manifests as socially and sexually inappropriate behavior.
His brother, Todd (Timm Sharp), a charmless sad sack, tells his girlfriend Lindsay (Melanie Lynskey) all about Shonzi’s behavior toward women, but never bothers to explain his own freaky issues. Todd’s weird relationship with his brother includes a history of allowing Shonzi to take hidden video while he has sex with his girlfriends. He explains to the horrified Lindsay that it’s to make Shonzi “feel normal,” which is clearly ridiculous and a lie — the videos are the only way Todd can get off; this nonconsensual video documentation is never adequately justified in the context of the script.
An hour into the film, by which point they already know that Shonzi lurks outside people’s doors like a nosey Victorian scullery maid, Lindsay and Todd still insist on attempting to have sex while he’s visiting. After a fight with her, Todd yells at his brother, “Do you realize you’re the reason why she left me tonight?” which is completely incorrect. She actually leaves because Todd’s a brother-punching dick and a passive-aggressive wet blanket. Lindsay’s attraction to him is never explained — was her dad a vaguely mean turtle?
Lynskey is a luminous counterpoint to Phillips’s energetic earthiness, but they can’t lift a story with so much killjoy ballast.
Directed by Linas Phillips
Duplass Brothers Productions
Opens November 4, Alamo Drafthouse
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 2, 2016