Remember when the Brexit referendum happened (no one ever mentions it) and upon realising that everything had totally gone to shit, the remainer camp had a mass realisation: we are all trapped in an online echo chamber where we think everyone agrees with us because we follow people who, well, agree with us.
My personal echo chamber, on Twitter primarily, is full of other people who love watching films and then wanging on and on and on about those films and old films and new films and ALL THE FILMS. Which is why, when you hear that Blinded by the Light isn’t doing very well and doesn’t seem to have much of a release, you feel vaguely confused. More than normal.
It turns out that cinephiles (literally the worst term in the entire planet, why have I written that?) bloody love Blinded by the Light, but people outside of my lovely film bubble can’t be arsed to go and see it. In the name of all things cinema and indie film and female director, I am now writing this on my lunch break (my boyfriend made me packed lunch and snuck a cheese string in there, so I think I am high on delicious cheese slithers), in the hope that someone reading it might decide to go and see it. You never bloody know, do you?
Initial waffle over. Blinded by the Light is a coming of age story set in Luton in the 1980’s, directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend it like Beckham), about Javed, a teenager who discovers who he is and who he wants to be through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Why not, eh?
I’ll get to the point quickly for once: to say mean things about this film is exactly the same as kicking a nice little puppy directly in the gob. Exactly the same. EXACTLY THE SAME. It is full of such wholesome, loving joy that it almost hurt my eyes. But it didn’t! Because that would be mean.
Viveik Kalra plays Javed, our hero – a wannabe writer with his head stuck right up a cloud’s arse and his hand firmly around a pen, used to write poems and diary entries. He dreams of becoming a writer! Chance would be a fine thing, Javed. Unfortunately for him, his father would much prefer the family could afford to eat and that, so he’s in a right mood and wants Javed to get a real job or at least study economics or something else useful.
This battle is the heart of the film, with Kulvinder Ghir playing the hard-shelled but soft-middled Dad with such authenticity that it was hard to remember I wasn’t watching a documentary.
The film picks up from a slow start once Javed makes his Bruce Springsteen discovery, with the lyrics blazoned across the screen as he sings and dances his way around Luton in technicolour musical numbers. These are so effective and so heartfelt that I couldn’t help but be carried away by them – and I am not a woman with any sort of vague interest in Springsteen. It was so bloody good at expressing a pure love and fascination for his songs that I even listened to some of them when I got home! My boyfriend’s normal programming of nothing but Sandstorm by Darude soon started back up again, but you get the drift.
By the time we reached the end of our story with Javed and his Dad and Bruce, I was fully won over. The final climactic scene is beautifully scripted, and even though I am a pure sap and will cry at anything, I did weep (sexily, obvs) more than normal at this.
The whole thing is filled with such hope and light and joy and fun that you would be hard fucking pressed to leave this film feeling anything but happy and satisfied.
If I were the sort of person who kicked puppies in the face and therefore could say something bad about this lovely happy film, which I am definitely not, then maybeeeeee you might say that the first hour is a real drag. To the point that one may look at one’s watch thinking that the film is almost over, and realise that it’s not even half way through.
That sort of person might also say that the film is so sickly sweet that it verges on vomit inducing at points. And maybe that the acting, especially at the beginning, is amateurish at best and drama-school-OTT at worst. Not me though!
If you want to feel happiness, go and see this film.