I never ever need to hear another Bruce Springsteen song.
When it comes to musical movies, it seems like studios these days have two options: Either make a tragic biopic about a famous singer à la Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and Rocketman (2019), or a fun comedy using the music of a singer à la Yesterday (2019) or the newly released, Blinded by the Light (2019). By the way, you can check out my reviews for Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman and Yesterday here, here and here. Utilizing the music of Bruce Springsteen, Blinded by the Light is more than just a musical comedy. It’s a touching tale for anyone whose dreamed about creating a life more fulfilling than the one they’re already living.
Inspired by a true story, Blinded by the Light follows Javed Khan, a Pakistani teen growing up in the English town of Luton in 1987. Javed’s father is a strict man who wants his son to get a sensible job that pays well, when all Javed wants to do is write. When Javed is introduced to the music of Bruce Springsteen, he feels understood for the first time and is inspired to pursue his dream of becoming a writer.
It wasn’t until after the movie ended that I learned that the director of Blinded by the Light is none other than Gurinder Chadha, the woman responsible for the best sports movie ever made: Bend It Like Beckham (2002). I said what I said. Really, I should have clued in sooner because as I watched, I couldn’t help but notice all the similarities between Chadha’s most famous work and her most recent; an English child of Asian immigrants who harbours an obsession the parents disapprove of, a sibling who supports their independence, a sibling getting married, a best friend they meet through the obsession, a whirlwind romance…no wonder I liked this movie so much! Sidenote, man, I need to rewatch Bend It Like Beckham because that movie is just…*Italian chef kiss. The most important similarity between these two exceptionally well-made and massively charming movies though, is that they’re both beautifully told stories that focus on family and the value of following your dreams.
First of all, if your movie features a protagonist with big aspirations who loves to write, you can instantly count me in as an avid supporter of said movie. Even if you substitute writing for another passion, you still have a moving story for anyone who spent their days working, dreaming and believing that their lives were capable of changing for the better. That’s how powerful the message behind Blinded by the Light is. On the surface, it may seem like a movie capable of speaking only to niche audiences (Springsteen fans, musicians, Pakistani teens, writers, etc) but at its core, this is a movie for everyone. If you can’t find an aspect of this movie to emotionally resonate to, than you may just be an unfeeling robot with a perfect life. And is that very interesting? Certainly not.
From the get, the movie is full of intrigue. The struggles of the Khan family as well as their relationship with each other are established quickly, and the movie does a great job of really making you feel for them. Each member of the family is going through their own hardship and the movie never throws any of its characters off to the side. You get an introspective look at this family who is dealing with so much, disgusting acts of racism included, and you’re spellbound as you can’t wait to see where the story takes them. Much of the credit has to be given to star Viveik Kalra who as Javed, delivers a star-turning performance. Kalra will have you laughing, crying, hoping, and swooning along with him, as he fully explores Javed and creates a character that despite living in the 80s, is relatable for any teen watching in any time period. Just saying, I was younger than everyone else in the theatre by at least 30 years and we all were cracking up and breaking down at the same spots. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kalra received a well-deserved Golden Globe nomination for his work.
Blinded by the Light is quintessentially 80s and quintessentially English, two delightfully fun tones that in my opinion, make great movies even better. Everything from costumes, to set design to music is a feast for the ears and eyes, given just as much attention to detail as any Broadway show. Speaking of, it’s only a matter of time before Blinded by the Light becomes a stage show of its own. There’s no way you can watch this movie and not think to yourself several times, “oh yeah, I could totally see this being performed on a stage.” The movie is full of all the elements a stage show needs, including incredible music, a plucky protagonist, an adorable romance, and more emotional punches than a cage match with a Hallmark movie. The only thing I could have used more of in Blinded by the Light was a tad more comedy as a breather in between the movie’s heavier scenes. I could see some Richard Curtis-esque characters or at the very least, some, “gee, weren’t the 80s ridiculous?” jokes fitting into the story nicely. You know what else fits into the story nicely? Hayley Attwell playing the “nice, supportive teacher.” It’s a role she was born to play.
Just try to stop yourself from smiling at the end of this movie. A welcome breathe of fresh air, Blinded by the Light is a winner in every sense of the word. This is the type of movie we need more of. Movies that are full of hope and emotion, great stories that are about real characters working towards real goals. I realize I’m coming off as more than a little pretentious, but that’s the thing about Blinded by the Light. It should inspire us all to want more and be more.
Will you see Blinded by the Light? Are you a Bruce Springsteen fan?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!