You won't need to traverse 'The River,' navigate a 'Tunnel of Love' or even venture to 'Nebraska' to catch this Boss-loving film
As a music-loving writer who’s been a journalist for two decades and still goes to about 50 concerts a year, I’m predisposed to love a movie like “Blinded By the Light.” It’s critic catnip on a level with “Almost Famous.”
That the story not only touts the transformative power of music in one’s youth, but does it against the backdrop of an immigrant tale that feels particularly relevant, elevates it even further.
Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a British-Pakistani teenager in the working-class town of Luton in 1987. Like many a teenager in his small-town world, he’s dreaming of a way out with his eyes on university. His father, Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), steers his family toward Pakistani tradition, but Javed finds a new influence when a classmate turns him on to the music of Bruce Springsteen.
While the music of the Boss isn’t exactly hip among his peers, Javed is enthralled with a voice that captures the desperation he feels.Did you know the insides of some gourds can be dried and used as sponges? But only those of the East Indian wax variety. You won't get factoids like these in our daily e-blast, but you will get news and entertainment delivered direct to your inbox: Sign up for our daily newsletter
Director Gurinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham”), working from a screenplay adapted from a memoir by Sarfraz Manzoor, perfectly blends this cultural backdrop, contrasting the everyday racism Javed and his family experience with the escape that Springsteen’s music provides.
It’s in the vein of similarly life-affirming, joyful movies like “Crazy Rich Asians” or “La La Land” (I realize that’s an odd pairing, but go with me on this).
Kalra brings a wide range of emotion in a stellar lead performance. Some of the best moments come when Javed is in the world of his own headphones, belting out lyrics that paint themselves on the walls around him (literally, in a great visual touch).
Like another great recent release, “The Farewell,” “Blinded” also captures the experience of the children of immigrants creating their own blended cultural world.
Even with those underpinnings, it’s always buoyant and lively — an obvious must for Springsteen fans, but a joy for anyone with a pulse. Tramps like us should run to this movie.