Dir; Gurinder Chada. Starring; Viveik Karla, Hayley Atwell, Nell Williams. PG-13. Color. 118 min.
More often than not obsession is a negative thing, particularly in your teenage years. Based on a true story, director Gurinder Chadha‘s new film “Blinded by the Light” throws away that critical narrative. Somehow a Pakistani kid adjusting to school in Britain during the 1980’s finds solace in perhaps the most blue collar American singer of all time. Talk about culture shock both ways.
The story is based on journalist Sarfaz Manzoor and his experiences growing up loving Bruce Springsteen aka ‘The Boss’. He is fictionalized as Javed (newcomer Viveik Karla). From the opening credits we know this will be a compilation of nostalgia. Javed struggles to make friends in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain when his parents uproot him because father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) moves them suddenly after getting a factory job at a car manufacturing plant.
The family sticks out like a sore thumb moving into an almost entirely white neighborhood during a time when race relations were even worse than today. Kid’s come and piss through the family’s front door mail slot. Having to push their cheap car home after it dies in front of the neighbors is embarrassing. Local white supremacist bullies like to refer to the family as “Pakis” and their next door neighbor Mr. Evans (David Hayman) is constantly off put when collecting his paper in the morning.
It isn’t all bad for Javed. His english teacher Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell) is classic no nonsense, doesn’t matter who the kid is stuff, and sees potential in his writing. He meets a beautiful girl in Eliza (Nell Williams) yet is nervous around the white young lady. A ‘who gives a damn’, for lack of a better phrase, young rocker Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman) and his crazy father show Javed how to say screw everything else and let loose.
Unfortunately Javed’s father is old school and insists his son spends less time writing and more time finding ‘honest’ work. It is also stressful for the family as the father is laid off. The girl crush is pushing him away. At this point he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen thanks to walkman tapes he borrows from fellow brown colored student and friend Roops (Aaron Phagura).
The lyrics from a singer born half way around the world in New Jersey becomes the reason Javed gets out of bed in the morning. He listens every chance he gets which only fuels his writing. His teacher notices his improvement in the words on the papers being turned in. Lyrics are literally conceptualized on the walls as he dances down alleyways to cover up Nazi rhetoric plastered in spray paint.
“Blinded by the Light” is not new stuff story wise. If you want to puke when you see happy things on screen then it ain’t for you. Obviously the singing to get the girl is cheesy, but it is absolutely earned. However, there is also a third level towards the end that is not completely off book but unexpected. Let’s just say it involves the father ashamed to be unable to afford something for his offspring, the main character attempting to enter the career field, and racism continuing to exist.
I am not a big Bruce Springsteen fan. He has some good songs, but was never my thing. Doesn’t matter. The Boss inspired this person to feel alive every day. There is nothing disingenuous about this film. If you do not leave the theater with a warm feeling in your heart then I don’t know what to tell you.
Suck Factor: 1 out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!