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Blinded by the Light
I have found myself grabbing multiple movies around one topic these days; I have a couple movies to see about housewives and strippers seeking to elevate their lot in life (I think? This may be an oversimplification), but also this is my second film surrounding Bruce Springsteen, with the Clarence Clemons documentary Who do I Think I Am being the other recent experience. Having been unfamiliar with Blinded By the Light, I wanted to give it a shot!
Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) directed the film and adapted a screenplay from Sarfraz Manzoor's book, which tells his story of emigrating to England from Pakistan as a baby and growing up in Eastern England, experiencing lower class work and racism in the late 1980s. It's when a friend introduces him to the Springsteen catalog which transforms him personally, allows him to find his identity and elevate himself past the toils of everyday Luton.
Blinded has enjoyed a lot of people saying the words "feel-good movie" or similar words since its American debut, and it's easy to see why, as it does two things very well: first, the work by Viveik Kalra (his feature debut) is relatable and pure. As Javed, he gets confident, he grows more and more mature, doing things he wouldn't have dreamed of before. The movie is Kalra's to carry and he does so. Secondly, he (and Chadha) show us why people take comfort in music, and shows how well the connection is to it and particularly Springsteen's with connective emotion. When Javed (plays the song that stirs him to action, the chaos going on outside is what is going on in his mind too. She hits the right notes(!) in getting Javed up and going and the audience goes along for the ride.
The ensemble is just as devoted to their work also. Largely unfamiliar to me (the only one I spotted was "Trip To" co-star Rob Brydon), each are equally relatable characters who you root for the best for. Kit Reeve (also her feature debut) charms as Emma, Javed's crush, and Meera Ganatra (also HER feature debut!) plays Javed's mom Noor while Beckham vet Kulvinder Ghir plays Javed's father Malik, who serves as the main conflict point for the film. Ultimately there are not any truly bad characters who are integral to the story,
It's easy to see why so many find comfort in Bruce Springsteen's music, and as Javed explains several times through the film it's not just the condition of Pakistani immigrants that can relate, it's humans that can, and with the help of a good story and capable direction from Chadha, Blinded by the Light shows you the power of music and its impact on a life that does better than he could have anticpated before coming in touch with it. It make's Bruce's music more relatable for those like me who weren't devotees (I appreciate the following!), but the fact that the human story is up to the task makes it that much more enjoyable.The Blu-ray
2.39:1 and in high-definition, Blinded looks good generally. The colors (such as they are for Luton) are reproduced nicely and flesh tones appear normal. Image detail tends to be on the soft side given the source material, and there is some jumbling of film sources here. The image does have some minor haloing issues and probably could have been improved upon, but it's fine generally.The Sound:
Dolby Atmos TrueHD for this one, and given that Springsteen's songs are the showcase they sound great, particularly the stuff from "The River" and "Born in the U.S.A." The cast vocals and performances are just as clear and broad, while dialogue sounds consistent as can be. Environmental noises pan and whirl around, and directional effects help to convey sonic immersion in the home theater, and quieter moments also sound clear without compensation. A nice job from Warner.Extras:
Sadly not a lot of extras to be had here; 4 extended and deleted scenes (9:48) are easily detected by how redundant they are; "Memoir to Movie" (6:10) looks at the idea for the story and how Chadha got to it, and the recollections by Manzoor and other real-life figures. "The Most Amazing Thing" (6:55) looks at the book and the attempts to get it made into a film, including a chance encounter with Springsteen, who shared his praise of the book. The reception for the film at Sundance and elsewhere is covered too. What, no interview with Bruce? Ah well.Final Thoughts:
Not knowing what to expect before turning on Blinded by the Light, what I got was a fun, engaging film about a Pakistani kid overcoming his fears and societal norms, with the help of a rocker from New Jersey. The kid handles his work well and everyone around him enjoys what they're doing too, and it shows onscreen. Technically it's decent but the lack of extras are a bummer. Definitely worth checking out whether you are a fan of Bruce Springsteen or not.