Blinded By The Light


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Blinded By The Light
"The film has a personal touch and an honesty that surpasses clever writing and naturalistic acting." | Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

As a tribute to Bruce Springsteen from a Pakistani boy in Luton in the Eighties you will find this difficult to improve upon. Javed (Viveik Kalra) is 17-going-on-whatever and wants to be a writer, which is what white middle class kids confess to in career class as a way of impressing the girls. He is different. It’s an emotional need, a genuine discovery, nothing to do with the flush of lust that hasn’t drowned his reason yet.

There are many strands to the screenplay - co-adapted by Sarfraz Manzoor from his memoir Greetings From Bury Park - reflecting the difficulty of being a certain age in a somewhere-but-nowhere town where immigrants of every hue and nationality are treated with suspicion, if not violence. Javed’s dad had a decent job with a finance company but loses it when the going gets tough and he’s first out, being racially targeted.

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Javed doesn’t get on with his father. His ambitions are out there on a different plain and thanks to best friend Poops (Aaron Phagura) who introduces him to the music of The Boss he feels the tug of a kindred spirit, the lyrics being so relevant to what he feels and suffers. Despite a veiled critical edge the film is never less than a delight to watch and a joy to listen to as Bruce brings it on with stories of small town dalliance and big city tremors.

The performances match the integrity of the production and remain faithful to this war against conformity and The National Front. Coming together and finding yourself is part of every teenager’s struggle and so it is here but not as the main event.

The film has a personal touch and an honesty that surpasses clever writing and naturalistic acting. If these appear small in hindsight that is an illusion. What is happening here in the gut of the animal is another answer from the secret heart of why poetry triggers affection and lyrics speak for a generation.

Reviewed on: 08 Aug 2019
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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.
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Director: Gurinder Chadha

Writer: Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, Sarfraz Manzoor

Starring: Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Sally Phillips, Rob Brydon, Jonno Davies, Nina Kumar, Amer Chadha-Patel, Atul Sharma, Jag Patel, Kulvinder Ghir, Sofia Abbasi, Sonia Goswami, Lee Byford, Nell Williams, Billy Barratt, Tom Stocks

Year: 2019

Runtime: 117 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK


Sundance 2019

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