BLINDED BY THE LIGHT – A Review by Cynthia Flores
This is the year of feel-good films from England based around specific Iconic performers. The first one was the wildly inventive and popular film Yesterday based on all things Beatles. Now we have Blinded by the Light from Gurinder Chadha, director of films such as Bend It Like Beckham and Viceroy’s House. This is the film version of Safraz Manzoor’s book, Greetings from Bury Park, which is both a memoir and a love letter to Springsteen and his music.
The film tells the story of Pakistani sixteen-year-old Javed (Viveik Kalra) who in 1987 becomes a devotee of Springsteen and his music while coming of age in the small British town of Luton. Javed struggles to build a life as a writer that he wants versus what his Muslim father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) plans for him. It’s the late 80s, and his school friend Roops (Aaron Phagura) was the one who introduces him to an artist older people were into, and it blows his mind. Javed finds solace in the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. The first time he listens to his music is during a storm both in his life and literally in his town. The choice of the director to bring Springsteen’s lyrics literally to life around Javed during the movie is stunning. Javed sees him and his music as a symbol of every man who dreams of a better world.
The 80s in England was no picnic; it was not all new music and partying. It was a dark time and the era of Margret Thatcher. There was civil unrest, widespread unemployment, and overt hatred of immigrants, especially Pakistanis. Blinded by the Light does a good job showing the impact that era had on Javed’s immigrant family.
This is a crowd-pleasing story. Javed whose obsession with Springsteen helps him to find his voice during these dark days is relentlessly upbeat and unfortunately occasionally corny. I’m not an uber Springsteen fan, I only know his hits, so the whole preaching of the “Gospel of the Boss” is a bit overboard at times for me. That being said, the underlying story between Javed and his hard-working father is dead-on perfect. The film shows the growing pains of wanting more and daring to dream big when your family can’t afford that luxury.
Blinded by the Light is not a perfect film, but it is worth seeing, especially if you are a fan of the Boss. I give this film a B+ rating.
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Written by Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, Sarfraz Manzoor
Selig Rating B+
Running Time 1hr 57min
Drama / Comedy
Wide Release August 16th
Starring: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Aaron Phagura, Dean-Charles Chapman
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.