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BLINDED BY THE LIGHT gets 7.5/10 Revved up like a deuce


Directed by Gurinder Chadha

Starring Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra

7.5/10

In 1987 the town of Luton is starting to undergo economic hardships in Thatcher’s Britain. Javed Khan (Viveik Kalra), struggles to find a place for himself in this world, dealing with racism in the wider community, while struggling with more traditional attitudes at home, until one day he’s exposed to the music of Bruce Springsteen. Javed finds the music of “The Boss” revelatory, as it opens up a new world of possibilities for him.

A low key diegetic musical and coming-of-age story, Blinded By the Light manages to entertain and to tug at the heartstrings. Like Wild Rose earlier this year, this film deconstructs the allure of popular music by examining its appeal to an unexpected audience, allowing for an examination of the themes that have a cross cultural appeal. Again, it’s isolation and poverty, as well as the resilience to overcome the associated hardships, but this time expressed by the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen and filtered through the migrant experience of a second generation Pakistani growing up in small town England.

The nostalgic time period also helps Blinded by the Light to convey this message. It’s 80s setting is not merely an excuse to throw shade at some of the worse excesses of new wave pop that arose during that era (although there’s plenty of that), but it also allows for a closer examination of the transitory nature of music trends, and what endures. Then there’s also the economic hardship of the era, the growing recession, and the unsavoury swing to racism, far right politics, and violence triggered by the downturn. With that distance, we can see how much has changed, while still drawing worrying parallels to today.

However, what Blinded by the Light does best is show us the draw of music, how it can resonate at a spiritual level, and have a meaningful impact. We can relate to the revelatory experience Javed has upon hearing his first Springsteen song (conveyed in imaginative fashion by Bend it Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha), because it is something almost all of us have experienced, under differing circumstances and a different muse. That instant connection to a set of lyrics speaking directly to you and your life.

Based on a true story Blinded by the Light is a charmingly entertaining film, with just a bit more to say than the saccharine concept might initially suggest.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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