In recent months, movie goers have been treated too well received bio pics about famous musicians. Bruce Springsteen is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters of modern times. A movie about his storied career would definitely be an interesting one. Blinded by the Light is not that movie. While heavily inspired by the music of The Boss, the movie is not about the singer. Instead, it is a touching coming of age story that proves movies do not have to break the mold to be good.
Blinded by the Light revolves around Javed, a Pakistani teenager who lives in Luton, England. Javed’s dad wants him to get a good job and make money while his son wants to write. A chance meeting with a fellow student changes Javed’s life. How? Well, the movie’s title is one of Springsteen‘s most famous songs. The trailer features many of his familiar hits. The poster states it was inspired by Springsteen. So, the real question is, will non-Springsteen fans enjoy the movie?
Despite how important a role Springsteen plays in Blinded by the Light, it is not necessary to be familiar with his music to enjoy the movie. Director Gurinder Chadha uses music perfectly. Springsteen’s catalog is more than just the soundtrack of the movie. While it definitely intensifies the mood every time it is played, it does more than just add meaning to scenes. The music is an important character in the film. The songs have feelings and motivations that develop over the course of the story like any other main character should. Music is rarely used this effectively in film.
Yet another nice touch by Chadha is having the lyrics appear on screen. This is done creatively and is never obtrusive. Sometimes the lyrics will circle around the main character’s head. Other times they are written on a wall or are blown around the screen by a strong wind. They always catch the eye while also adding to the scene. Emotional moments become even more impactful.
Blinded by the Light is not a musical. That being said, it has great musical numbers. The highlight by far is a montage set to “Born to Run”. It is not only a fun scene, it also captures the hope and excitement of the characters. The pseudo musical interludes are more than just montages. They progress the plot while developing characters.
As great as the music is, Blinded by the Light would not work without a strong story. The plot has many of the familiar elements of a coming-of-age tale, while still touching on deep themes. Identity and independence are usually a big part of the genre. Racism and the dwindling job market are not. The film seamlessly mixes genre tropes with its unique approach. This prevents it from ever getting stale. The comedy and drama are interwoven deftly and nothing ever seems out of place.
Blinded by the Light is also helped by a strong performances. The movie has many stock characters – the overbearing dad; the quiet mom – but the acting never makes them boring. The main reason for this is how realistic and relatable they are. Most people can understand being a teenager looking for an escape which makes the characters very likable and easy to root for.
Feel good movies that are actually good seem harder to come by nowadays. Blinded by the Light uses the tried and true formula of the genre. The engaging characters and familiar story make it a fun watch. The use of music and fearless approach to the direction will keep the audience interested the entire time. There are plenty of fun movies out this summer, but few will leave audiences with as big as a smile.