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“Blinded By The Light” Is A Perfect Tribute To Bruce Springsteen And The Best Film Of 2019

Full disclosure: I’m a massive Bruce Springsteen fan. Despite hailing from New York, not New Jersey, and being born in 1987, when Springsteen was already huge and, at the time, seen as a relic of rock and roll’s past, The Boss speaks to me. His music, his words, they’re something more than just songs. I say that because it really does feel like the new movie Blinded by the Light was made for me. However, that’s only part of why I love it so much. Perfectly attuned to Springsteen, it’s also a massively entertaining coming of age tale and a real crowd pleasing endeavor. Simply put, it’s the best thing I’ve seen all year and I’d be surprised if it didn’t top 2019’s cinematic offerings in my eyes.

The film is a music centric coming of age story. Set in 1987 during the Conservative days of Margaret Thatcher’s British rule, teenaged Javed (Viveik Kalra) is about to have his life changed by the music of Bruce Springsteen. Of course, he doesn’t initially know it, leaving a sad, simple, and lonely existence under the thumb of his father (Kulvinder Ghir). When classmate Roops (Aaron Phagura) hands him two Springsteen cassettes, it all changes for Javed. He begins to find his own voice, both as a writer as well as a son, though Bruce. Living a newfound joyous existence, Javed butts heads with his father, set up some major family conflicts. Through it all, many of The Boss’ greatest hits play, to much rejoicing. Gurinder Chadha directs and co-writes with Paul Mayeda Berges and Sarfraz Manzoor, based on Manzoor’s memoir (Bruce Springsteen also gets an “inspired by the words and music by” credit). Supporting players include Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Dean-Charles Chapman, Tara Divina, Frankie Fox, Meera Ganatra, David Hayman, Nikita Mehta, Sally Phillips, Nell Williams, and more. Ben Smithard handles the cinematography, while the score comes from Academy Award winner A.R. Rahman.

This was my initial response after seeing the flick late last month: “It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while a film perfectly captures a feeling. For me, Blinded By The Light brilliantly presents what it’s like to discover Bruce Springsteen as a teenager. The movie is a crowd pleaser of the first order, but for someone like myself, it was close to a religious experience and my body was wracked with the feeling of being seen. I’d be shocked if this doesn’t stick as my favorite film of the year. I truly feel seen in a way that cinema, at its best, can sometimes do.”

Blinded by the Light is utterly perfect. From start to finish, I loved every single moment of it. The coming of age aspect is handled terrifically, while the Springsteen related elements left me in a state of rapture. For fans of The Boss, there’s even the added bonus of a new-ish song. “I’ll Stand By You” was written by Springsteen for potential use in the Harry Potter franchise but ultimately was not utilized. Now, it provides the closing credits track, as a bit of an easter egg for lovers of Bruce.

Oscar wise, Blinded by the Light is probably a long shot, but that doesn’t mean that New Line and Warner Bros. shouldn’t give the film a campaign. Efforts in Best Picture, Best Director (for Chadha), Best Actor (for Kalra), Best Supporting Actor (for Ghir), Best Supporting Actress (for Williams), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Berges, Chadha, and Manzoor), and Best Original Score would be lovely endeavors to witness. Likely? Probably not. However, if the powers that be at the WB are reading this, voters would love a crowd pleaser like this, so give it a shot and see what happens.

This week, Springsteen fans are in for an utter treat. Blinded by the Light is everything you could hope for and more. It’s almost impossible to explain how much of a delight this is, but seeing is believing. Once you watch the movie, you’ll understand. Especially if you love The Boss, you’ll feel seen by the filmmakers here in a very real way. I felt like this flick was made just for me, but all fans will feel that. It’s a masterpiece and the best thing I’ve seen all year. Give it a look and you’ll see why…

Be sure to check out Blinded by the Light, in theaters starting this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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