BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
* * * ½
(Coming of age film with good messages)
Javed (newcomer Viviek Kalra) is a British-Pakistani-Muslim living in Luton, England in the late 1980s. His father has brought the family to England in hope of a better life, but the cultural difference, high unemployment, and prejudices toward Pakistan make life difficult. The only other Pakistani in Javed's high school gives him a tape of Bruce Springsteen, and he is influenced by the Boss's lyrics.
Javed is a loner and a writer of poetry and song lyrics, encouraged by his teacher and discouraged by his strict father, who has lost his job and is depressed by his inability to support his family. While is father is "stuck in another century," Javed is made fun of for his fascination with Springsteen, whose music is considered passé by his peers. Springsteen's lyrics speak to Javed, who feels alienated by his white British peers and even more by his father's beliefs and lifestyle.
He falls in love with a white, wealthy young lady (Hayley Atwell), who has become a political activist, further muddying the waters. Springsteen's "Born to Run" becomes their manifesto, highlighted by a great production number as they run through the streets proclaiming their allegiance to the Boss.
It all comes down to a big writing contest that will send Javed to Springsteen's hometown and, upon his return, a chance to make his peace with his father and provide us with a "feel good" ending.
"Blinded By the Light" is a feel-good movie that gives us insight into prejudice and cultural differences that get in the way, especially for young people. It is based on the life of its author, Sarfra Manzor, who we learn during the credits has been to over 100 Springsteen concerts.