Gary Cruise’s review published on Letterboxd:
Blinded by the Light is a music dramedy set in 1987 during the austere days of Thatcher's Britain when a teenager learns to live life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of Bruce Springsteen.
Quite possibly one of the most frustrating movie experiences of 2019 so far for me. So far this year I’ve seen movies that have been awful, average or phenomenal and it’s usually quite easy to tell which it’ll be from at least the second act of the movie. Blinded by the Light started off excellent and derailed dramatically as the movie went on. During the first act, it has a great set up, great character development, great acting and a fantastic soundtrack. As soon as it reaches the moment when the lead character starts to sing and begins quoting Bruce Springsteen, the movie takes a fast paced trip down cringe alley and slowly becomes more and more unbearable. I love Bruce Springsteen, always have done, he’s one of the greatest American songwriters of all time so when I heard a movie was going to be based around The Boss’ music and lyrics I wasnso excited to see the end result. Spoiler alert. It’s a gigantic disappointment. The way Springsteen is quoted in this movie is just ridiculous, it’s awfully written and so damn unrealistic it’s unreal which is concerning considering it’s inspired by a true story...
Viveik Karla plays lead character Javed. During the first act, Jared is a likeable and I’m sure relatable for many character. He’s an underdog in life and a black sheep in his family, it’s very easy to sympathise with him. His excitement when he discovers Springsteen is quite contagious and easy to provide an uplifting feeling to the movie. Unfortunately from that point onwards he goes against all of the likeability he built up in the first act and just becomes cringy, annoying and unlikeable. It’s odd because even his acting gets worse at this stage too, sometimes coming across as wooden and emotionless. Besides, his obsession with Springsteen crosses fanboy and starts bordering on creepy stalker... Surely I’m not the only person who found it a little creepy when he started quoting him constantly, dressing like him and covering his wall in his posters? Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. Fair play to his on screen father, Malik played by Kulvinder Ghir who is hands down, villain of the year. I do understand there is a certain level of cultural differences to take into consideration but Malik is constantly played out to be a horrible, selfish, despicable person and only really get a shot at redemption far too late into the movie when I already hated him too much tocare. He was so damn consistently frustrating to watch. The rest of Javed’s family were likeable and there was constantly a level of sympathy surrounding them due to the horrific racial abuse they received and everything they had to put up with from Malik. The best performance in the movie comes from Captain America actress Hayley Atwell who plays Javed’s teacher, Ms. Clay. She’s the only cast memeber outside of the females in Javed’s family who gives a consistently good performance throughout and is always likeable.
This movie absolutely nails it’s 80s surrounding thanks to the set designs, TV footage, soundtrack, costume designs and political commentary. This also includes some jarring and effective social commentary on racism which is very hard to watch at times. The tone and seriousness of said scenes don’t fit in with the rest of the movie and always seem so out of nowhere that it’s almost like a punch to the gut compared to the rest of the movie but I’m glad it was included because although this movie is set in the 80s, there are still so many modern day issues involving racism so I think it’s great that this movie puts that message across. What isn’t so great is the random musical numbers in the second act. If Gurinder Chadha had the intentions of making a musical, she should’ve just made a musical. I honestly believe this movie would’ve worked so much better as a musical. But instead, this is a standard dramedy so when the characters burst into song it just turns into a cringefest to the point I had to bury my head in my hands. It doesn’t work. At all. The style of this movie, on the other hand, is excellent. The moment the Springsteen lyrics started appearing on screen I had a huge grin on my face, that worked perfectly. I’m just upset that it wasn’t used in a better movie focusing on The Boss. Speaking of which, the filmmakers could only license a small number of Springsteen’s songs and unfortunately you can tell. Whilst it was great to hear some of his best songs in a movie on the big screen, they became repetitive fast as the same songs were used over and over again. I’ll also never forgive them for using Born to Run for one of the out of place cheesy musical sequences. I’ll never look at that song in the same way again which is not okay.
Overall, I find it incredibly difficult to recommend Blinded by the Light which annoys me because there are a few elements of the movie to be loved but they are outweighed by cringy sequences, unrealistic dialogue, unlikeable characters and a terrible ending. It’s disappointing how much of a wasted opportunity this movie really was.
💩 & 1/2 / 💩💩💩💩💩