Cast: Viveik Kalra, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir
Director: Gurinder Chadha
So in the last year, we’ve had Queen, Elton John, and The Beatles represented in film, it was only a matter of time before Bruce Springsteen got his music represented in film. In the case of Blinded by the Light, the reason why the film succeeds is because it’s a movie about real people and situations and how Springsteen’s music plays a role in them versus films exclusively about music. Intimately detailed and incredibly personal, Blinded by the Light combines the best of Springsteen’s career with a special blend of familial struggle than relates to all of us at our most human level.
The film follows Javed Khan (Kalra), a Pakistani teenager who was born and raised in Luton, England by his traditional parents Malik (Ghir) and Noor (Meera Ganatra). His parents want him to do something more financially prosperous like studying economics, but Javed has a passion for writing that he thinks will make him happy. When Javed is introduced to the music of Bruce Springsteen, he relates to the music and uses it as fuel to inspire his writing. While this makes him a better writer, it deepens the divide between him and his family to a point where Javed must decide whether his happiness or his family’s love is more important to him. As previously mentioned, the element that makes this movie so successful is that the music is an element to the plot, but it isn’t 100% the plot. A movie about Freddie Mercury will have to include Queen in it, but in this case you could replace Bruce Springsteen with Tom Petty or U2 and the story would have the same emotional impact on the viewers. You can tell that Blinded by the Light is a deeply personal and true story to the real-life Javed, but the moments of this movie that work the best are the ones that almost anyone who had a dream in their life can relate to. While the main focus of the film is on the impact that family has on our lives, it still manages to remain topical and relevant to the current political climate. I wasn’t familiar with the anti-immigrant sentiment that existed in England in the 1980s, but it’s still incredibly relevant with the rise of right-wing nationalist governments and how they rile up their supporters. I wasn’t anticipating a pretty lighthearted and caring movie to talk about such a dark and complex subject, but the way it’s handled is appropriate with the tone of the rest of the movie. Sure there are the typical sappy and dramatic moments that happen in every similar film, but they aren’t very frequent in Blinded by the Light and when they do show up, they represent a meaningful relationship. Blinded by the Light really does elevate the famous musician films we’ve seen come out in the last couple of years by adding a needed level of heart and personality, easily making it one of the most impressive movies of the summer.
Overall, Blinded by the Light has all of the necessary heart and charm to make it an intimate and touching movie while supplementing it the music with one of America’s greatest rock stars. Thought-provoking, interesting, and different than most other releases out right now, Blinded by the Light shows us why you should always follow your dreams in a fitting 117 minute runtime. I don’t how many options will open up for Kalra’s career after this performance, but for what he gave us in Blinded by the Light, I hope he’s able to explore other funny yet meaningful roles in the future.
Overall Score: 8/10