Blinded by the Light

Blinded by the Light ½

When a movie starts with a character saying to his best friend, in the second line "after all, we are best friends", it's not a good sign. It doesn't improve from there.

A film with the best of intentions and created with heart and commitment, but a spectacularly hokey, clumsy failure on nearly every count. The story of a young first-generation child of Pakistani immigrants in Thatcher's England and the solace he finds in the music of Bruce Springsteen is torpedoed at every step by a stunningly tin-eared script, awful narrative choices, and the clear impression that the filmmakers just had no idea what story they wanted to tell.

Was this a musical? Sometimes. A comment on immigration in England? Often. An indictment of Thatcher's England? Occasionally. A catalogue of Springsteen songs to trick the audience into ignoring the appalling writing? 100%. An inspiring story of independence? Sort of. An edgy take on inter-racial love? Meh.

Because despite earnest performances from the kids playing Javed and Roops (who was the absolute highlight), this film lurches from major event to major event but never actually shows us them. How will we pay for a wedding, says dad, i just got sacked. Mum reassures, you will figure out a way because you are a good man. He feels better. Wedding goes ahead (no idea how it's paid for), but we don't get to see the wedding because there's a convenient neo-nazi march happening at the same time plus Javed goes to buy Bruce Springsteen tickets. Dad rips up the tickets, the concert idea goes away. Javed gets accepted to a prestigious and highly convenient conference in Bruce Springsteen's home town. We don't get to see the conference at all. Roops somehow goes to New Jersey too. In this world, money is both everything and nothing, where everyone frets about affording things until it comes time to spend money, when money is spent like water.

Most egregious, is the convention that is set up to demonstrate that Javed is the second coming of Wordsworth, the reincarnation of Dickens, the spirit of Shakespeare, with the wit of Gaiman and the talent of, I dunno, some other super talented writer. But they never show it to us. We get tiny snips of extraordinarily clumsy doggerel verse (always rhyming AABB but with highly irregular metre: "I look outside and I see a car/Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go so far"), and when he reads his "prize winning" essay that has got him his award at school, it's like it was written by a nine year old ("When I first heard Bruce Springsteen it made me feel happy because he's from a town like me" etc). All we get is everyone staggering in disbelief that he could be so talented. He wins awards, jobs, and trips from his writing but the screenwriters don't have the ability to write anything coherent or exciting themselves, so they force the audience to take their word for it.

I'm sure everyone making this movie were very proud of their work, but it's amateurish, clumsy, and more than a little bit embarrassing. Worst thing I've seen this year.