Never underestimate what can be done; just when it seems impossible for you to go any further, your wounds heal with time. This biopic about a supposed nobody from the United Kingdom, Blinded by the Light, captures that hidden sense of persistence toward your dream to a greatly effective extent that is guaranteed to motivate.
However, the screenplay’s not quite perfect. While you do cry glittering tears to see the growth of the protagonist, Javed, some of the characters such as his mother and best friend suffer from diminished story arcs. There’s also one of those for Javed’s sister, the only weak actor in the cast, but it’s gladly all made up for thanks to the strong characterization of Javed’s father. In light of the dim dress-clothing-colored reality he lives in, the father actually has a point when he declares an intense hatred of public kissing.
This crowd-pleaser manages to give teens a hard fact: strong writers reveal what others must hear, that the inner storm of a true writer is visualized by an outer storm that blows around Javed’s papers of poetry in the moonlight. The visual poetry of these images is tailored to speak to the individual… such as the constantly failing family car that symbolizes coming together in hardship. Even in the funny moments such as a bright marketplace love song, the numerous smart performances make this style of communication more intimate than initially assumed.
Still though, genre cliches darken the readily applicable themes for most of the screenplay’s grown-up figures; these include a controlling parent who embarasses his son while dropping him off at school, and an awkward first time meeting the girlfriend’s parents. There are other ways the humanization is hindered, and not just by the bits of 1980s nostalgia. While it’s all appropriate: music, Rubik’s cubes, hair, fluorescent hues on the girls‘ eye makeup, some film footage of the era is included in the edit, and it gets a little excessive. Not to mention a superfluous voiceover narration ruins the focus of this overly male story.
While yes, this film fails the Bechdel Test, each female seen in Javed’s life still empowers other girls and women watching as much as Laurie Strode, Sarah Connor, and Ellen Ripley have done for generations. Even better, the women of Blinded by the Light lead all spectators toward a sense of moral direction; that not every empowering woman figure has to be totally badass. Rather, morality celebrates kind support to others; Laurie Strode supported her friends, Sarah Connor supported her son, and Ellen Ripley supported a little girl. The ladies of director Gurinder Chadha’s feature are no different.
Truly anyone can be an empowering role model, and the seventeen Bruce Springsteen songs prove so! Even if this movie keeps some of the stylistic mise-en-scène choices a little too safe to be studies in film class, it guarantees fulfilled ears in the same way Javed’s were. If you too live beneath an oppressive society, then you will love the spectacular lyrics projected around Javed’s head in his moments of intense focus on Springsteen’s expression.
In fact, several of the actors go as far as breaking out into song like nobody’s watching! By another director, these moments of singers and dancers breaking free of strings to sing a song would become cheesy, but here it works correctly. You do not have to worry about suspending any disbelief when Javed buys expensive denim while unemployed or other minor details like that, the fun to be had in the songs is just plain contagious!
Now, here’s the key catch about Javed: he’s not British, his Pakistan blood separates him from the racist White kids outside, one of whom pees through a friend’s mail door; their entrance is plastic-coated for that very reason. Outside the homes of other Pakis, he fights one bully at a restaurant with an encouraging musical enthusiasm. Now, who else would Javed look up to as an example of a real man besides Dad’s oppression? Sadly, in most Paki homes, only the head breadwinner can share opinions, and that very moneymaker (currently unemployed throughout the events of the motion picture) contrasts the illuminating, kind neighbor next door. But can Dad mold his pumping heart of iron into one of malleable gold to survive? More importantly, for the sake of his son?
There’s the fear that all of existence may go to waste anyway, that’s why you ought to imitate what Blinded by the Light celebrates by moving your passions forward for the goodwill of others who wonder what to do with themselves. Whatever oppression halts your way, you have the responsibility, privilege, and capacity, to change the world.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Blinded by the Light. Sundance Institute. Web. <http://www.sundance.org/projects/blinded-by-the-light>.
Gleiberman, Owen. “Sundance Film Review: ‘Blinded by the Light’.” Digital image. Variety. WordPress, 27 Jan 2019. Web. <https://variety.com/2019/film/reviews/blinded-by-the-light-review-1203119930/>.
Setoodeh, Ramin. “‘Blinded by the Light’ Director on Her Sundance Hit, Bruce Springsteen and Why She’d Like to Make a Marvel Movie.” Variety. WordPress, 30 Jan 2019. Web. <https://variety.com/2019/film/festivals/blinded-by-the-light-director-gurinder-chadha-sundance-bruce-springsteen-1203124186/>.