THE MOVIE GUY — Blissfully ‘Blinded’ by toe-tapping movie

Published 12:02 am Friday, August 16, 2019

You may have noticed that I’m a big fan of movie musical dramas. The Beatles-flavored “Yesterday” got my toes tapping back in June, and now I’m singing along with another crowd-pleasing flick, this one inspired by the music of Bruce Springsteen.

Based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s bestselling memoir, “Blinded by the Light” tells the story of Javed (Viveik Kalra) a Pakistani teen living in England in the late 80s. As an immigrant, he lives in a hostile world, torn between his adopted British community and his father (Kulvinder Ghir) who espouses traditional Pakistani values at home.

Javed’s life changes when a friend introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen. The Boss’ working class lyrics speak to Javed’s frustrations and dreams. They fortify him while he struggles to grow up, often at odds with his father’s wishes.

How many of us found a similar artist in our high school years that seemed to give voice to what we were feeling at the time? Part of the beauty of this film is that you don’t have to be a big fan of Bruce Springsteen to understand how music can transform your life and provide the words to express unfocused feelings. Heaven knows that I’ve had this happen to me several times in my life, not just during my teenage years.

The moments that show Javed listening to the music on his Walkman are a bit campy, but I was still seduced by the youthful energy behind his rock and roll connection. Credit Kalra for his leading man performance. He is very effective playing a young man who’s just coming of age, still trying to figure out who he will become.

I don’t think that the family cultural conflict fares as well. Ghir has a thankless role, playing the disapproving father. Indeed, some of this father and son drama is cliched and bordering on melodrama at times.

That’s forgivable. I suspect that audiences won’t be lining up to see this film for its dramatic moments. It’s the music and the joyful energy that make “Blinded by the Light” into such an affecting bit of late-summer cinema.

Director Gurinder Chadha has been somewhat under the radar ever since she made “Bend it Like Beckham” back in 2002. I’m not going to say that “Blinded by the Light” is as good as the film that originally brought her to fame, but as both films deal with similar themes and moods, I do think that “Beckham” fans will also love “Blinded.”

Either way, it’s good to see Chadha back making such crowd-pleasing movies.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to “Born to Run” once again.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.