So, what do we make of a coming of age flick about a first generation Pakistani-Britisher teen, a kid growing up in a depressing industrial town in the Thatcher era? How does that resonate with us even with a solid soundtrack of Bruce Springsteen hits?
It resonates like a cathedral bell, loud and deep. Any of us who spent part or all of their high school years fumbling through life more or less at odds with the world will see familiar themes played across the screen. But we could say the same about dozens of other films from “Sixteen Candles” to “Easy A.” “Blinded by the Light” comes up to those standards. It makes for a very nice teen to adult film, well done in all ways and satisfying at that level. But hold on to your hat, we get a lot more than we paid to see.
Fathers and mothers will find heartbreaking reminders of their children at that awkward age and cringe at their own mistakes or feel pity for the well loved child with a foot in both stages of life. The necessary break between the strict father and the lad coming into his own makes the film for me. The immigrant father just cannot understand his son, a flailing half old-culture boy and half a modern English man. The emotional toll taken on both father and son ring as authentic and deeply moving. We recently have had some doggy movies that manipulate our emotions expertly, but here genuine drama produces a much superior result.
All of us experienced high school, but Javed, the boy, also must contend with his ambition and talent while being suffocated by his strict immigrant family, which naturally enough he loves. This give us an extra layer of complex emotions to absorb as the players show us the story.
And we get a strong dose of knuckle down, buckle down, work hard and love those who love you, be they family or the girl who sees into your callow young heart and somehow, wonder of wonders, approves.
Viveik Kalra plays the teen boy with wonderful freshness and a skill that we would not expect from a young actor with a very short list of credits and those from TV at that. His romantic companion is Nell Williams, another fairly new face. Nell has few demands made upon her and no demands that she does not succeed at fulfilling.
Writer/director Gurinder Chada chose Kenya as a birthplace but has long thrived in England. The female director also directed another very well done film about the translation from youth to adult in “Bend it Like Beckham.” That film about a young female soccer player set Keira Knightley on her firm and successful career path.
“Blinded by the Light” lasts for one hour and 58 minutes. The $15 million film rates a mild PG-13 rating and deserves six sawblades, but I am only able to award five sawblades. I will give the five sawblades gladly, but will also make a strong recommendation to movie fans of all ages to come out and see this film.
My new just today movie buddy suggested that “Blinded by the Light” should be mandatory viewing for our senior class here in Payson. I second that thought with enthusiasm.