Javed Khan (Viveik Kalra) is a British teen of Pakistani descent growing up in 1987 England. Amidst the racial and economic turmoil of the times, he writes poetry as a means to escape the intolerance of his hometown and the inflexibility of his traditional father. But when a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen, Javed sees parallels to his working-class life in the powerful lyrics. As Javed discovers an outlet for his own pent-up dreams, he also begins to express himself in his own voice.
Every once in a while, we need a film to come along that will warm our hearts and take us on an incredibly inspiring journey to escape from the real world. One of my favorite films of this entire decade thus far was John Carney’s Sing Street. Everything down to the performances, music, acting, and emotion felt so rich and raw and it was one of the most inspiring pictures of the decade, and perhaps in the entire coming-of-age/music genre.
This is what I was hoping Gurinder Chadha’s Bruce Springsteen-inspired movie Blinded by the Light would do for me. I was wanting to leave the theatre with a big smile on my face, and I wanted to feel something after watching it. After watching it, I can happily inform you that this film did that exact thing for me, and so much more.
The cast of Blinded by the Light is an extremely diverse one which is great to see. Often films of this calibre do not feature this many people of color sadly, which is why its so fresh and exciting to see this cast. Practically every actor in the film does a truly terrific job here, but the strongest one has to be Viveik Kalra, who portrays lead protagonist Javed Khan. He is a teenager with a plethora of hopes and dreams. He wants to leave his depressing town of Luton with hopes of moving to somewhere better to pursue his goals of becoming a writer and finally obtaining true happiness in his life. Why is this such a struggle? His home life is down-right awful.
At home, Javed’s father always finds a way to shoot down his confidence every time he brings up his writings such as his diary entries and poems. His father wants him to have a different job, specifically a doctor, but that is not what Javed wants. He wants to do what he has dreamed of doing ever since he was a young boy.
The story of Javed finding Bruce Springsteen’s music which inspires him to finally begin to pursue his dreams of becoming a writer is one of the most heartwarming stories I have experienced in a cinema in quite a long time. Throughout every single scene, I was rooting for Javed to succeed and I was hoping that things would eventually work out for him. Kalra does such a great job here, that he never once felt like an actor portraying somebody. It is truly remarkable.
Since this is a film that is centered around the music of Springsteen, set in the 1980s, you would more than likely expect there to be some great songs played throughout, and there gratefully is. Every once in a while, we will hear an iconic 80s song (usually a Springsteen hit) and the scenes that accompany them are a blast to watch.
When it comes to issues with the movie, there is only really one thing that I wish was done differently, and that is about it. There are a couple of sequences in the film that I felt were cut too short. Some scenes end without an explanation as to what happened, or if they do have an explanation, it is essentially glossed over and they never bring it up again. It would have been nice to have had these scenes extended by even just a minute or two to better explain the situation.
Blinded by the Light is an incredibly raw and powerful picture with an inspiring story, outstanding performances, and deeply emotional moments.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and language including some ethnic slurs
Cast: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra, Nell Williams, Aaron Phagura, Dean-Charles Chapman
Directed by: Gurinder Chadha
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time: 117 minutes