Friday Film Review - "Blinded by the Light"

Sep 13, 2019

Add another film to the rock idol genre with the new release of “Blinded by the Light”, a film that plays homage to The Boss through the eyes of a die-hard fan.

I’ve seen my fair share of rock-inspired films recently, including the biopics of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Elton John in “Rocketman”, and the Beatles fan narrative “Yesterday”.

There’s no arguing that the list of rockers ripe for a film profile is long, and it’s not surprising that a film about an avid Bruce Springsteen fan has rounded out this year’s trend.

“Blinded by the Light” is a coming of age - and true - story about a young man in England who’s life changes once he starts listening to Bruce Springsteen.

The film takes place in 1987 in working-class Luton, England, where a British-Pakistani teenager named Javed (played by Viveik Kalra), is struggling with pursuing his dream to become a writer while honoring the traditions and cultures of his Pakaistani/Muslim family.

The story is set amongst the backdrop of the Thatcher-era Britain, marked by economic uncertainty and racial tension between neo-Nazi Brits and the Pakistani community.

Hoping to find a path to follow his dream, Javed enrolls in the local community college and signs up for a creative writing class unbeknownst to his father, who expects Javed to find a career that will help support his family.

At school, Javed befriends Roops (played by Aaron Phagura), a fellow Muslim and die-hard Springsteen fan. After Roops shares a few Springsteen cassettes with Javed, Javed is hooked and Springsteen’s music and lyrics become the soundtrack to the aspiring writer’s life and the inspiration to follow his dream. As expected, many of Springsteen’s classics - from Born to Run to Thunder Road - perfectly illustrate Javed’s angst and hopes as he navigates becoming an adult and finding love.

“Blinded by the Light” was based on the 2007 memoir, “Greetings From Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock ’n’ Roll,” written by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, the inspiration for Jeved’s character. The film, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, was directed by Gurinda Chadha, best known for the 2002 breakout "Bend It Like Beckham.”

Chadha cleverly uses Sprngsteen’s lyrics as captions to augment key scenes in the film and Javed’s transition from a conservatively dressed and quiet student to a white t-shirt/jean jacket/red bandana-wearing young man on a mission.

Rated PG-13 (for thematic material and language including some ethnic slurs) and running 112 minutes, “Blinded by the the Light” is a film worth watching for Springsteen fans and anyone looking to relive and become inspired the music and culture of the late-1980’s.