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Film Review: Blinded by the Light (2019)

Blinded by the Light (2019) is a coming-of-age drama which is told through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), this film stars first-time actor Viviek Kalra with support from Hayley Atwell and Rob Bryden. Set in the 1980s, Javed Khan (Kalra) is struggling to accept living in Luton as a Muslim, with his family constantly having to deal with discrimination and racism. As an aspiring writer, he discovers the music of Springsteen and starts to learn to accept himself and reach for his dreams.

Blinded by the Light (2019) – source: New Line Cinema
Between this film and another music-based film released this month, Yesterday, I love that film companies are having asian and non-white leads from unknown actors step up. This makes the story feel more genuine and important, especially in a film like this. The Muslim aspects of the film take a forefront, which grounds the setting of the 80s here. I love how strong the message was, and what Chadha had to say throughout about beliefs, family and struggling in that place and time.
You would not believe that Viviek Kalra is a first-time actor here, because he is very confident in his role. He does a great job selling his character, but I also found him to be well written. We have a character here that is rounded but also very flawed. I could see a lot of myself in Javed, as someone that is also studying English and wants to be a journalist. As someone that is also heavily influenced by media, whether it be music or films, I can see how he becomes so obsessed about one thing so quickly.
The music sequences here are fantastic and work not just as musical numbers, but driving the narrative forward. Whilst a stylistic choice that may not work for everyone, I liked how the lyrics from the songs came up at certain points. It hits the point that the driving force behind choosing these songs were to do with the lyrics in that situation, not just because they are hit songs from one artist. There are some musical moments, but they work for that particular situation. It gives me Sing Street vibes, which is perhaps the best thing I can say about a film.
Blinded by the Light (2019) – source: New Line Cinema

I loved every single side character and how they were written. Javed’s family had so many layers, and I loved watching it unfold. I particularly liked the relationship between Javed and his mum, especially near the end of the film. Javed’s friends, Malik and Eliza, are also very well written and fleshed out. They also have flaws but are such fun characters. The interaction between all of the characters helped create a fresh story for the film, and every character felt genuine to real life.

There is a moment near the end of the film which is shocking and disturbing to watch, and I could not believe that the movie went this far to show the implications of Muslims living in England in the 1980s. It was an incredibly strong scene and amazingly acted and shot. It was a shock, particularly because of how light and cheery the rest of the film is in comparison. It helped deliver such a strong message and it was well placed and I am glad that Chadha put that particular scene in.
When the film starts, it does take a while to get into the film. The stereotypes are very clear, almost reaching the point of silly at the start of the film. It is slow to begin and takes a while to start liking the characters and accepting the situation that they are placed in. However, this slow beginning and stereotypes are important to accept the rest of the story and to see the full implications of everyone’s actions. After about 20 minutes, you will be sucked into the rest of the film.

Blinded by the Light (2019) – source: New Line Cinema

This film is a genuine surprise, and is as of right now in my top three of the year so far. It has charm, heart but also a strong and powerful message which I did not expect to see. I love the way that Springsteen’s music was used to enhance the message and story, and I cannot wait for this film to officially release so I can check it out again and again. Please go and support this film in August.

Did you get a chance to check out Blinded by the Light? If not, are you excited to see this film? Let me know down below and let’s have a conversation.

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