Blu-ray Review: Blinded By the Light

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Blinded By the Light, new to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, tells the true story of Bruce Springsteen superfan Sarfraz Manzoor. As a British-Pakistani teen in the '80s, Manzoor and his family faced racial prejudice as they struggled to make ends meet. Manzoor is represented in director Gurinder Chadha's film by likeable lead Viveik Kalra, playing a Manzoor-based character named Javed Khan. Blinded is a rather irresistible piece of feelgood entertainment that is highly recommended for Springsteen fans in particular, but may also convert some new fans of The Boss.

That said, it's also a rather slight piece that could've dug deeper into Javed's newly-discovered love of Springsteen. He's an aspiring poet with little self-confidence—compounded by his strict traditionalist father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) who expects Javed to follow in his footsteps. A friend at his high school introduces Javed to Springteen via a couple of cassette tapes. Despite the recent popularity of hits from the Born in the USA album, Springsteen isn't in particular favor with Javed or his circle of friends. They prefer a more modern pop scene to someone who first gained popularity in the previous decade.

At its heart, Blinded charts the relationships between Javed and his father as well as his best friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman). Synth pop-loving Matt doesn't get Javed's newfound obsession, but he's always defended him no matter the cost. Skinheads constantly torment Javed and his family, as well as their Pakistani friends and associates. But Javed almost loses cite of the importance of Matt's loyalty as he becomes more and more militant about Springsteen. There's also a minor but effective relationship between Javed and his English teacher Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell), who encourages Javed to rescue his poetry from the trashbin (literally).

Viewers experienced with this sort of sunny, uplifting material deserve no prizes for predicting where the whole story is ultimate heading. The most interesting (and perhaps polarizing, depending on individual viewer taste) is director Chadha's occasionally stylized depictions of Javed and company enjoying Springsteen music. Ultimately these moderately experimental sequences help to convey the visceral impact that the songs and their lyrics make on Javed.

The Blu-ray contains a couple of brief featurettes detailing the process of adapting Sarfraz Manzoor's memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll for the screen and a selection of deleted scenes.


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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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