At its best, Blinded by the Light is an encapsulation of the power of music. When Javed (Viveik Kalra) is swept away by the transformative powers of Bruce Springsteen’s music – empowered to ask a girl out, to write his heart out, to be the person he can be – it sings in the harmony that everyone can relate to. At least, I could; I can remember my teenage years transforming when my nerdish obsessions turned to music, and surely you too have a story of how music changed your life.
Beginning as a true exploration of cultural clash – Javed lives in a 1987 England that’s not especially welcome to Pakistanis, under a roof that’s not especially welcome to the artistic culture he strives to involve himself with – the film never quite lives up to its potential. Kalra and his supporting cast – particularly Aaron Phagura – are charming, but under-utilised by a screenplay that veers into cliché after cliché. A robust thread of racism is over-simplified into bad white supremacists vs good guys, while every rom-com trope in the book gets slathered over the third act. It’s still entertaining for the most part, but the film’s descent into familiarity can’t help but disappoint.