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Blinded by the Light Movie Details

Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Produced by
  • Jane Barclay
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Jamal Daniel
Written by
  • Paul Mayeda Berges
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Sarfraz Manzoor
Based on Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll by Sarfraz Manzoor
Starring
  • Viveik Kalra
  • Kulvinder Ghir
  • Meera Ganatra
  • Nell Williams
  • Aaron Phagura
  • Dean-Charles Chapman
Music by A. R. Rahman
Cinematography Ben Smithard
Edited by Justin Krish
Production company
  • Levantine Films
  • INGENIθUS
  • Bend It Films
  • Cornerstone Films
Distributed by
  • Warner Bros. Pictures
  • New Line Cinema
  • Entertainment One
Release date
  • 27 January 2019 (Sundance)
  • 9 August 2019 (United Kingdom)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $17.2 million

 

About a month ago I was in attendance for Cineworld’s 11th secret screening, which turned out to be Blinded by the Light. With its UK general release being today, however, I thought it best to wait till now to post my review.

Based on a true story, we follow Javed (Viveik Kaira) a British-Pakistani teenager living in Luton in 1987. He loves to write. He’s kept a diary since he was very young and also writes poetry. Politically and socially this time period was difficult for a boy in his position, so much so that he had little hope of a better future. The effects of poverty and racism were a daily struggle. That is until he hears the music of “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen, and suddenly becomes inspired to live life by his lyrics.

Blinded by the Light is a coming-of-age story, brought to us from the team that gave us ‘Bend it like Beckham’ – one of the most underrated films of the 21st Century! Directed by Gurinder Chadha, this film shares similar story beats to ‘Bend it like Beckham’. We have a British-Asian teenager living in England with their traditional parents, who dreams of breaking away and following their own path. There’s discrimination. There’s a family wedding. Much of it feels familiar. The difference, in this case, is instead of a dream to play football, Javid’s dream is to become a writer.

Springsteen is an incredibly honest songwriter. His lyrics about growing up trapped in a small town is exactly how Javid feels. He too feels like he was “Born to Run”. I’m not going to say I’m the biggest Springsteen fan in the world, but I do enjoy a lot of his songs – some of which we get to hear in this film. Unfortunately, it did seem like we heard the same few songs repeated over and over again. Without knowing for sure, I can only imagine it’s because they couldn’t get the rights to use many of his songs. There were a lot more I wish we’d had the pleasure of hearing.

The way the music was used was also questionable. We hear him as characters listen to cassettes. We see him on TV. We also have a couple of sequences in the middle where the film almost turns into a musical. Unfortunately, they didn’t fully commit to becoming a musical which left those scenes feeling really odd and cheesy. Had they went down the route of ‘Yesterday’ and had our protagonist singing all the songs that could have worked. Or if they’d fully embraced becoming a musical, similar to ‘Mamma Mia’, that might also have worked. The way they actually used the music was ok but underwhelming.

Thematically this is a serious film. The writers don’t hold back when it comes to letting us know how they feel about Thatcher, her Conservatives, or their policies. We also see various Pakistani families suffering from verbal and physical abuse. In some ways, this film is trying to provide commentary on some serious issues. That said, this film is really funny, with much of it actually being a generic high school comedy. Javid has to deal with bullies, finding friends, impressing his teacher and also meeting girls. It’s a thin line to tread balancing between comedy and drama, but Blinded by the Light just about manages to achieve it.

In terms of the performances, I thought newcomer Viveik Kaira did a great job in the lead role. He came across as extremely likable. I thought Javid’s father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) was fantastic – arguably he stole the film. There were also some good supporting performances from the likes of Meera Ganatra, Dean-Charles Chapman, Hayley Atwell & Rob Brydon.

The star of the movie, however, in my opinion, was the production designer Nick Ellis. There was absolutely no disputing that this film was set in the 80’s given all the detail in the sets. The posters on the walls, the furniture in the houses & the products on display were all accurate to the time period. I even noticed some writing on a blackboard that made me laugh internally, despite me not even being alive when this film was set. That great attention had to get a mention. The costumes and hair were also impressively terrible – as was the style back then.

It’s difficult to tell whether or not this film will be a success. I’ve not heard or read any reviews for it yet. For some reason my gut instinct is telling me that this film’s going to fail to find its audience, but I sincerely hope that I’m wrong. It’s nowhere near as good as ‘Bend it like Beckham’, but it’s still a nice little film.

 

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