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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Its 1987 and Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a Pakistani Brit teenager living in Luton during the economic downturn of Margaret Thatcher's run as Prime Minister. He faces racism and the struggles of a first-generation Pakistan family in England, so he writes diaries as a way to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the stubborn views of his traditional father (Kulvinder Ghir). When a classmate, Roops (Aaron Phagura), introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed sees parallels between the singer's powerful lyrics and his own life. Through Springsteen's music, Javed finds his voice, comes to understand his family, and learns to follow his dreams.
Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Viceroy’s House, Bend it Like Beckham), written alongside Paul Mayeda Berges (Bend it Like Beckham, Mistress of Spices) and Sarfraz Manzoor, Blinded by the Light (2019) is a comedy-drama and coming of age story inspired by Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir “Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll”. Now, music icons are known for being timeless due to the impact that they leave behind. Their melodies speak to us in ways that make us feel like we are not alone and that we are understood. They motivate, inspire, and sometimes revolutionize change, and this film about the impact that music can have and what they can motivate their listeners to do. While most songwriters coming out of the ’60s and '70s write socially conscious songs about the world around them, Bruce Springsteen wrote songs that gave a different perspective about America. They were songs for himself about the average man, and surprisingly it's these songs that both inspired Sarfraz Manzoor and changed his outlook on life.
Although this is a story that we’ve all heard before, it still has something new to offer and one can’t help watching it without a smile on their face. It grabs ahold of the audience with its endearingly dull portrayal of Luton and likable lead but the film also attempts to introduce some more serious social-political themes; such as life in a Margaret Thatcher-Britain and racism that is quite jarring for such an uplifting film. The film places focus on specific lyrics that they want us to hear what Springsteen is trying to say. It’s poetry that dramatically changes the main character’s life, and not only demonstrates how music can affect us physically and emotionally but also shows that deep down we all deal with the same issues and problems. In short, music has a way of connecting people on a level that speaks to our heart and soul.
Of course, the story would not have been such a great success if it were not for the solid cast performances. Newcomer Viveik Kalra shines as Javed and perfectly conveys the near-religious experience of being touched by Bruce Springsteen’s music for the first time. He is relatable and his journey is believable. Nell Williams (Will, Game of Thrones as young Cersei) is terrific as rebellious and activist Eliza, and her chemistry with Kalra is fitting. Dean Charles-Chapman (Game of Thrones as Tommen) as Matt, Aaron Phagura (Informer) as Roops, and Rob Brydon (Holmes & Watson) as Matt’s dad act as comic relief for the film. The rest of the cast also do impressive jobs with their respective performances.
Overall, Blinded by the Light (2019) was way better than I expected. The story keeps a steady pace filled with well-aligned story arcs, emotionally deep lessons, inspirational sequences, and the timeless music of Bruce Springsteen. Whether you are a true Springsteen fan or not, I highly recommend that you see this film as I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Final Vote --- 8.3 of 10 stars
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