Blinded by the Light (2019)
August 17, 2019 1:51 PM - Subscribe

In 1987 Luton, in Thatcher's Britain, confronted by National Front racists on the streets and a stressed, angry father at home, a British Asian teenager learns to live his own life, get a new perspective on his Pakistani immigrant family, and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen. Directed and co-written by Gurinder Chadha (known for Bend It Like Beckham), with music by legendary Indian composer and film score creator A.R. Rahman. Inspired by a true story.

Also features Hayley Atwell and some kinetic typography!
posted by brainwane (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I saw this last night. I enjoyed the musical-esque dance party through town, and got a kick out of lyrics overlaid on the scenes. And the cast was fine. But the pacing bogged down a few times, and it did seem to hit some familiar beats. In fact, thinking about it, one plot point was exactly the same as in BiLB: the lead character runs off during a family wedding to pursue one of their own (disfavored) interests.

Still, it was definitely a good time.
posted by suelac at 4:09 PM on August 17, 2019

I wanted to like it much more than I did. I ended up lappreciating what felt like a Bollywood influence in the dance numbers (and even perhaps the drama of the literal storm when Javed first listens to Springsteen) and I thought it was moving as a depiction of the growing political tensions during the Thatcher era.

But it also felt like no one besides Javed and his father were particularly fleshed out. Like, Hayley Atwell was straight out of Inspirational English Teacher (Female) stock figures. Ditto for Older Neighbor You Think Will Be A Curmudgeon But Is Actually Nice. And Roops got no back story at all beyond being the slightly wiser, hipper, Pakistani friend. And the typography was ok at first and then became too cheezy for me.

That said, I'm always happy to support more diverse films and I'm a sucker for a "reconciling with your immigrant parents" plotline. I'd say see it in the theaters to support this kind of filmmaking but maybe see the cheap matinee?
posted by TwoStride at 8:53 PM on August 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

The strongest storyline was the one about Javed and his relationship with his father. The romance felt forced and unnecessary but maybe that's because Eliza's character was a bit one-dimensional. I wonder if the film could have been made stronger by cutting the romance and focusing more on the family stuff--or maybe my making Eliza more than a Rebellious Teen Girl with Clueless Tory Parents (TM).

At times, the writing was lacking in subtlety (e.g. "my father picks on me like your father picks on you"). I thought one of the most nuanced scenes was the one at his father's friend's house when the racist little shits are urinating through the letterbox. His father's friend makes this comment about how it's just kids playing around and that's why they put the plastic down on the carpet. Utterly heartbreaking.

It was flawed and predictable but really fun and impossible to dislike. Definitely a feel-good summer movie!
posted by quadrant seasons at 10:47 AM on August 19, 2019

I loved this but agree that some of the writing was super obvious. I didn't mind the romance because it let Javed recite some of "Prove It All Night." I'd have loved more scenes with his younger sister. When she takes him to a daytimers, and he finally lets go of Springsteen to just enjoy where he is, it was so lovely.
posted by gladly at 7:48 PM on August 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I couldn't tell whether the songs and dance numbers were fantasies or in-film musical sequences. Javed is handsome and charming and all, but I distinctly remember from my own teenage years that when a dude starts quoting lyrics -- even or perhaps especially lyrics that you already like -- things get kind of exhausting.

Still, I found this very sweet. I am not British or Pakistani, but I know very well what it is like to be a lonely teen in Fuckoff, Nowhere who is captivated by an artist that was not making their art with you in mind. It captured that sensation beautifully.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:20 PM on August 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed it very much, for the reasons Countess Elena said. I also think I really like works of art that are really inspired by the work of one artist but aren't just jukebox musical/biopic.

I'm trying to think of any other thing similar to this and the closest I can think of is the short-lived TV show "Eli Stone" that had a lot of George Michael music used in the show and George Michael himself showed up at one point. I already used my AskMeFi for the week or whatever, but can anyone else think of another film/TV show or other medium that does this type of thing, where the lead is truly inspired by the work of another artist in this manner?

And it's based on real life! Adorbs!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:30 PM on August 24, 2019

Whoops, realizing I identified Roops incorrectly, as he's likely Punjabi. Sorry, Roops!
posted by TwoStride at 6:39 AM on August 27, 2019

I thought they said Roops was Sikh?
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:19 AM on August 28, 2019

(jenfullmoon, you get two AskMe s a week now. Check it out.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:42 AM on August 29, 2019

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