Blinded by the Light
seen @ Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, Queens, NY
I’ve got an unanticipated buildup of posts and I need to clear the slate, so this will be a smaller post than I had planned. Blinded by the Light is inspired by a true story about a teenager of Pakistan descent, living in a nowheresville English town in the 80s, whose world is rocked when he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen for the first time.
I enjoyed this one a whole lot, and not just for the nostalgia factor. Director Gurinder Chadha, who also did Bend it Like Beckham years ago, presents us with a lead character, and a situation, not unlike what you might’ve seen in the 80s and 90s films of John Hughes or Cameron Crowe, but the racial aspect is a clear and important distinction: being Pakistani alienates newcomer Viveik Kalra not only from his economically depressed town, but from his disapproving father, an immigrant just trying to look out for his family the only way he can, because he knows no one else in this bigoted environment will. Bruce’s music (which you either love or hate; you can guess how I feel) speaks to Kalra like nothing else does and tells him there’s someone else, half a world away and part of an entirely different culture, who understands.
Light is also a joyous, exuberant story that’s a pure expression of youth, which someone will turn into a Broadway musical one day, I have no doubt. Indeed, it borders on being a musical already. Any potential comparisons to Yesterday, another film about someone of East Asian descent who bonds with Western rock music in an unusual way, are unfounded, partly because of the sci-fi aspect and partly because the romance here felt more organic. I had a great time watching it.