blinded by the light

★★★★

DIRECTOR: Gurinder Chadha (bend it like beckham, viceroy's house)
STARRING: viveik kalra, Aaron Phagura, Nell Williams, and hayley atwell

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

In 1987 during the austere days of Thatcher's Britain, a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen.

Aside from the big tent pole superhero flicks, musically themed films are all the rage in Hollywood at the moment. We've had Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, Elton John's Rocketman, and The Beatles Yesterday with countless more music films in the works. So its no surprise that the musical legacy of 'The Boss' has received the film treatment. And its just so turns out to be the most heartfelt, joyous film of the year. 

 

Javed is a Pakistani teenager who experiences racial and economic turmoil while living in Luton, England, in 1987. He writes poetry as a way to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the stubborn views of his traditional father. When a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteeen, Javed sees parallels between the singer's powerful lyrics and his own working-class environment. Springsteen's melodies soon inspire Javed to find his own voice and follow his dreams.

Blinded by the Light isn't just a massive sap fest of a film. Sure it wears its heart on its sleeve and will leave you with a joyous spring in your step as you leave the theatre, but it doesn't ignore the harsh reality of life for Javed and for his family. 

So often coming of age films are filled with youth filled optimism and dreams for the future. It has us yearning for what may have been. But Blinded by the Light also shows us the counter to those youthful yearnings in the racism Javed and his family encountered and the parental pressure that he experienced. Life is complex; at times beautiful at others dark.

Although the way in which they use Springstein's songs isn't as inventive as Yesterday, the story doesn't necessarily require it even when in one particular song the lyrics keep getting blasted across the screen. 

Blinded by the Light is brimming with acting talent and is a wonderfully led by newcomer Viveik Kalra as Javed who brings all the passion and frustration of the teenage experience to the screen. Kulvinder Ghir steals every scene as Malik Javed's demanding father and it was also fantastic to see Hayley Atwell and Rob Brydon on the silver screen again. 

 

Blinded by the Light is the most heartfelt, joyous, feel good film of the year.

★★★★

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