Blinded by the Light (2019 film)
Blinded by the Light is a 2019 British comedy-drama film directed by Gurinder Chadha, inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love of the works of Bruce Springsteen. Manzoor co-wrote the script, with Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. It is based on Manzoor's memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll. Set in the town of Luton in 1987 Thatcherite Britain, the film tells the coming-of-age story of Javed, a British-Pakistani Muslim teenager whose life is changed after he discovers the music of Springsteen. Viveik Kalra stars in the lead role, along with Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Kulvinder Ghir and Nell Williams in supporting roles.
|Blinded by the Light|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gurinder Chadha|
|Based on||Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll|
by Sarfraz Manzoor
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Edited by||Justin Krish|
|Box office||$18.02 million|
The film premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Entertainment One in the United Kingdom on 9 August 2019, and by Warner Bros. in the United States on 16 August 2019. Blinded by the Light received positive reviews from critics, and also received nominations for Best Film and Best Actor (for Kalra) at the 2019 SIFF Awards.
In 1987, Javed Khan and his family – Pakistani immigrant parents Malik and Noor, and sisters Yasmeen and Shazia – live in Luton, England. Javed likes contemporary rock music, which Malik disapproves of. Javed writes poetry and lyrics for his best friend Matt's band, but Matt critiques Javed's work for being depressing.
Javed feels out of place at his new school, where he is one of two South Asian students; the other, Roops, is a fan of "The Boss." In Ms. Clay's writing class, Javed develops a crush on a student activist named Eliza and becomes interested in the writing assignments. Javed talks to Ms. Clay after class about his poetry and diaries. During lunch Roops approaches him and gives him two Bruce Springsteen cassette tapes, calling Springsteen "the direct line to all that is true in this shitty world." Javed faces constant racism from his peers and neighbours, and Malik forbids him to socialise, insisting he "follow the Jews" in his school because of their success as a people.
Javed is rejected as a writer by the school paper. At the same time, Vauxhall Motors lays off Malik. Frustrated by racism and Malik's inability to understand him, Javed discards his poems on the night of the Great Storm of 1987. After listening to the Springsteen tapes, the lyrics immediately speak to him, and he recovers his poems. At school, Javed excitedly tells Roops that Springsteen knows exactly how he feels. Inspired to continue writing, he submits his poetry to Ms. Clay. A neighbour, Mr. Evans, recovers one of Javed's poems that decries the National Front, who are planning a local march. As a World War II veteran, Mr. Evans sympathizes with Javed's feelings and calls the poem brilliant, but Javed's parents are less appreciative.
Javed submits a piece about Springsteen to the newspaper. Meanwhile, Malik becomes aggravated over mounting bills and Yasmeen's upcoming wedding. Javed takes a job with Matt's father, also a Springsteen fan, at his flea market. Matt's father helps Javed impress Eliza by singing Springsteen songs.
Javed asks out Eliza, steeling his nerves with Springsteen songs. The two kiss, and Javed gives Eliza a poem, which she loves. Ms. Clay enjoys his poems and arranges an unpaid internship at the Herald. Javed and Roops lock themselves in the school radio station and play Springsteen, briefly getting in trouble. Amid more racist intimidation, Eliza invites Javed to meet her parents; Javed tries to hide his discomfort.
At the Herald, Javed gets paid after an article he wrote about racism is chosen for the front page. Javed uses the money to buy tickets for a Springsteen concert on Yasmeen's wedding day. Before his parents arrive at the wedding, National Front members assault Malik. Upset that Javed withheld money from the family, Malik rips up the tickets. Javed stuns his parents by telling them he does not want to be their son.
At school, Eliza chastises Javed for abandoning his family and using them as an excuse to stop seeing her. In class, Ms. Clay tells Javed his Springsteen essay won him attendance to a lecture at Monmouth College in New Jersey, near where Springsteen grew up. Javed initially declines, knowing his father will disallow him, but changes his mind. Malik tells Javed that if he leaves, he will not be allowed to return.
Javed and Roops take the trip to the States. It inspires Javed to write something new. Back home, Noor tells Malik to reconcile with Javed and reminds him that he left his own family and country at a young age. Eliza recruits Javed's family to show up in support when he reads his winning essay. Instead of reading his essay, Javed talks about how "Blinded By The Light" mirrors his father's troubles. Everyone is moved. He reconciles with Eliza and thanks her for inviting his family. Malik reconciles with Javed and tells him that he has listened to Springsteen and admires the themes of working hard and respecting one's family. As Javed leaves for university, he and Malik listen to Springsteen together.
Blinded by the Light has grossed $11.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $5.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $17.2 million.
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Where'd You Go, Bernadette, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Good Boys, and was projected to gross around $4 million from 2,307 theatres in its opening weekend. It made $1.4 million on its first day, and went on to debut to $4.5 million, finishing ninth. Opening night audiences were 53% male and 47% female, 54% over 35 years old, and 63% Caucasian, 17% Asian, 17% Hispanic and 3% African American. Rival studios argued that Warner Bros. should have begun with a limited release to build audience interest, and that the film's August date was too close to Yesterday, another British jukebox musical released just a month prior.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 88% based on 208 reviews, with an average rating of 7.44/10. The site's consensus reads: "Like a life-affirming rock anthem, Blinded by the Light hits familiar chords with confidence and flair, building to a conclusion that leaves audiences cheering for an encore." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 71 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Johnny Oleksinski of The New York Post calls it "the feel-good movie of the year". Jordan Ruimy of The Playlist calls it "one of the most joyous and exhilarating movies you will see this year". Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly calls it an ode to "the power of music". Anthony Ray Bench of Film Threat calls it "a feel-good movie that tackles a bunch of tough topics, from politics, race, family traditions, social frustrations, and romance" yet "never feels preachy or overly cheesy." Adam Chitwood of Collider calls it "a rapturously joyous, heartfelt, and genuinely insightful film not just about The Boss, but about the personal nature and power of music."
Owen Gleiberman of Variety calls it "the sort of unguarded drama they used to make in the ‘80s — a coming-of-age tale of unabashed earnestness — but it’s also a delirious and romantic rock ‘n’ roll parable" that is "a more incandescent ode to the life force of pop music than any film ever adapted from the work of Nick Hornby." Bedatri Datta Choudhury of Vague Visages says that, while "Springsteen takes the American dream and helps everyone navigate through its dismantling," Chadha "makes it speak to an entirely different country and a whole new generation."
At the 2019 SIFF Awards in the Seattle International Film Festival, Blinded by the Light received nominations for Best Film (for director Gurinder Chadha) and Best Actor (for Viveik Kalra). In July 2019, Ethan Anderson of /Film listed Blinded by the Light as the eighth best film of 2019 so far. A critics' survey by IndieWire listed Blinded by the Light as one of the eight best films of Summer 2019.
Springsteen allowed twelve of his songs to be used in the soundtrack and it features several Springsteen rarities, including the first performance of "The River", from the No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden in 1979 and an acoustic rendition of "The Promised Land" that Springsteen performed in 2014 at Washington, D.C.'s National Mall. The soundtrack also showcases a number of Springsteen's classics such as "Badlands," "Hungry Heart" and a 1975 acoustic recording of "Thunder Road" performed at The Roxy Theatre.
|Blinded by the Light: Music from the Motion Picture|
|1.||"Ode to Javed / Javed's Poem – A.R. Rahman"|
|2.||"It's a Sin – Pet Shop Boys"|
|3.||"The Sun Always Shines on T.V. – a-ha"|
|4.||""The Boss of Us All" (dialogue)"|
|5.||"Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen"|
|6.||""You Should Be Listening to Our Music" (dialogue)"|
|7.||""I Never Knew Music Could Be Like This" (dialogue)"|
|8.||"The River – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (Live at Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – 21 September 1979) (previously unavailable on an album)"|
|9.||""Number One Paki Film" (dialogue)"|
|10.||"Badlands – Bruce Springsteen"|
|11.||"Cover Me – Bruce Springsteen"|
|12.||"Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (Live at The Roxy Theater, West Hollywood, CA – 18 October 1975)"|
|13.||"Get Outta My Way Fascist Pigs – Amer Chadha-Patel"|
|14.||""Do It for Me" (dialogue)"|
|15.||"Prove It All Night – Bruce Springsteen"|
|16.||"Hungry Heart – Bruce Springsteen"|
|17.||""You, Me and Bruce" (dialogue)"|
|18.||"Because the Night – Bruce Springsteen"|
|19.||"Maar Chadapa – Heera"|
|20.||"The Promised Land - Bruce Springsteen (Live on The National Mall, Washington, D.C. – 11 November 2014)"|
|21.||"Blinded by the Light – Bruce Springsteen"|
|22.||"Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen"|
|23.||"I'll Stand by You – Bruce Springsteen (previously unreleased studio recording)"|
|24.||"For You My Love – A.R. Rahman (new original song for film)"|
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