Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Blinded By The Light

Director Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded By The Light has some dubious, obviously contrived moments, but its performances and gloriously Springsteen-centric soundtrack more than make up for it.

Drawn from Sarfraz Manzoor’s autobiography Greetings From Bury Park: Race, Religion And Rock ‘N’ Roll, it’s an audience-pleaser that would never have happened if Bruce Springsteen hadn’t allowed a huge bunch of his songs to be used. But, of course, he read the book, knew Chadha’s work (such as Bend It Like Beckham), and was surely flattered by the suggestion that he’s “The Boss of us all”.

Back in 1987, British-Pakistani Muslim teenager Javed Khan (Viveik Kalra) is having a hard time in Luton, where he clashes with his proud dad, Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), writes depressing music for the band he’s in with pal Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman), and deals with often dangerous racism. When he befriends cool Sikh Roops (Aaron Phagura) at his new school, he’s introduced to Springsteen’s music and nothing is ever quite the same again, as Dancing In The Dark and many other songs have an immediate and liberating effect.

Javed romances punky Eliza (Nell Williams, who should have had more to do) and starts secretly writing for the local newspaper, while Malik grows increasingly critical of his son and his Springsteen obsession, as we build to several flashpoints that sometimes feel forced and improbable. But the music just keeps on coming, with some Pet Shop Boys, Level 42, A-ha, Tiffany and (surprisingly) Mental As Anything alongside wall-to-wall Bruce.

They’re all here: The Promised Land, The River, Thunder Road, Streets Of Fire, Because The Night (his version rather than Patti Smith’s), his famously verbose titular tune (not Manfred Mann’s), and Born To Run a couple of times (because you can never overdo it).

And, really, what more do you need? He’s The Boss.

Blinded By The Light (M) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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