Blinded by the Light (2019)

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.

3 stars

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