Blinded By The Light (2019)

This is a great film about Bruce Springsteen. I mean, he’s not in it (with the exception of a photo of him in the end credits) but it is very much him. Like, essence of Springsteen (worst fragrence name ever). It’s a film about the power of words and music. About how music can help you make sense of a shitty world. About how it can transcend geographical and genre boundaries, and really make you FEEL something. That’s the films biggest strength; the way it affects you on a pure emotional level.

This film has issues, not really big enough to count as flaws, more slight annoyances. There are times where Viveik Kalra’s performance isn’t QUITE what it needs to be and feels a little flat. There are other times where he completely nails the emotion, so it’s obviously not beyond him, but there are times where his performance doesn’t really work (particularly in the first half). There are some moments which aren’t needed. The opening scene, in particular, serves no purpose. It’s just a “here’s the main characters when they were children”. It kind of showcases the relationships between certain characters, but that could have been done more naturally. The music, whilst it’s good, it is a bit repetitive. There are some songs which are repeated multiple times. As such it doesn’t really compel you to go out and listen to Springsteen in the same way as Yesterday made you want to listen to the Beatles. The story is one you’ve seen before (would it be rude to call a true story “a bit cliche in parts”?). Some of the characters’ motivations aren’t clearly defined in terms of the film’s narrative, you’re not really sure what the end goal, what is the main character reaching for and aiming to achieve etc. It also has moments where entire groups of people burst into song in a way that breaks reality. We can hear the music being playing, but except for the main character nobody else can, they’re just hearing him singing, so how are they dancing to the beat of the music if they can’t actually hear it? I know that’s a really weird thing to pick out, but I’m not the biggest fan of “main characters break into song” at the best of times (which is weird as my favourite television show of the last few years is a musical) and I feel it has to be done well (and for a good reason) for it to be effective (for example, it worked PERFECTLY in Rocketman). It could be argued that it’s alluding to Bollywood tradition, merging Bollywood tropes with western music, but it doesn’t have the right atmosphere and speed for it to truly work. There are other moments with music which work a lot better. When the lyrics come up on the screen at important parts it works wonderfully and it allows you to see how the character is thinking, you can feel him connecting to those parts of the music.

It may not seem like it but I did enjoy this movie. Was incredibly heartwarming, and a lot of the supporting performances were great (Nell Williams in particular). It reminds me of a slightly below-par Nick Hornby at his best. Considering how much I love some of Nick Hornby’s stuff (High Fidelity is still one of my favourite books) that indicates how highly I rate this movie. So yeah I’d go see it. It might not be your favourite movie, but I highly doubt you’ll regret it.

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