“Blinded By the Light” written and directed by Gurinder Chandha, most famous for “Bend it Like Beckham”, could have been an award contender, but some silly elf must have helped co-write the middle sections of the film.
The movie premise and last twenty minutes were profound, yet a segment of the middle reminded me of a lesser Beatles “Help” or goofy B level Monkees episode*.
[Reviewus Interruptus Special Bulletin:
*Podcast listening addendum: Having a podcast now with my friend and super movie guru Gus Mollasis, I listen to other film podcasts to get ideas on programming, etc. One must listen to podcast I’ve discovered as a result is The Big Picture, available on Itunes.
I bring this up as after I had written this fresh out of the theater review, I listened to Sean Fennessey interview the director of Blinded by the Light, mentioned in paragraph one-Gurinder Chandra. Here’s where I say mea culpa in the tone, as Sean so delicately said, ‘the cascade’ of tones, the odd whimsical, what I called silliness mid-film. Gurinder helped teach me that living the Muslim/Indian/Easterner in London experience meant that you could be mocked or abused in the morning and by mid-day, laughing and joking about it with friends. While this sounds cavalier to us sensitives Americans, her mindset is not making light of the racial tension, but a zen way of living life. she certainly concluded the interview by saying she will not allow the racists to win, yet her viewpoint of (my paraphrase) ‘don’t let the bastards get you down’ is something we can all embrace and be better for.]
Now back to our regular scheduled review:)
The acting was terrific, the main character, Viveik Kalra as Javed, was spot on as beaten down Paki, word nerd and hero worshiper. Kulvinder Ghir and Meera Ganatra were more believable parents BY A LONG SHOT than the two written for Bohemian Rhapsody. Aaron Phagura is also good as Javed’s best friend. A super thrill for me was seeing Rob Brydon pop up in a scene, one of my favorite guys of all time (from his role as Steve Coogan’s buddy in The Trip) as an older Bruce fan who bonds with Javed.
Bruce Springsteen’s music plays a pivotal role which was fine, yet here’s where I think the screenwriter’s went awry. If you want to play Born to Run in total, ok, but find something evocative to do rather than a frivolous dance and running montage(my aforementioned “Help” comparison).
The film sticks the landing in the end and also does a nice job weaving in 80’s socio-political history. Again, had the middle of the film been more even and meaningful, we would have had an award competitor.
Blinded By the Light is still worth seeing, just tone down your expectations and you’ll be fine. That said, it kicks “Yesterday”‘s caboose any day of the week both in impact, story AND acting.