Sundance 2019: ‘Blinded By The Light’ Gleefully Proclaims the Universal Power of Art – Review
Blinded by the Light is one of the most delightful hits of 2019’s Sundance Film Festival. Like many other gems in this festival line-up, this film radiates an incredible amount of heart and soul. It cannot be stressed enough how lovely this movie is and how it portrays the power of music.
This coming-of-age story is set in Lutton, England in 1987. The tale is inspired by Pakistani journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s life as a teen and Manzoor happens to be one of the most dedicated Bruce Springsteen fans on the planet. In the film, Viveik Kalra plays Javed, whose life is profoundly changed when he is given a Springsteen cassette. He uses the inspirational music to get him through the balance of living between two different cultures.
Director Gurinder Chadha shapes this feel-good tale with bright ambition, and in many ways replicates the magic of her hit film, Bend It Like Beckham. The spiritual sequel substitutes soccer for music and is just as effective in expressing the journey of navigating two identities as a young person. The celebration of the blending of two worlds is supported by the creative use of music (not just Springsteen), which amplifies this already joyous experience.
The use of 80s nostalgia never comes off as cheap and the use of setting feels genuine. By the time the credits roll, one will not be eager to leave. In fact, a second viewing will probably be the first thing that comes to mind.
Fans of Springsteen will surely have a huge appreciation for the film, but the beauty of Blinded by the Light comes from the delivery of its universal message. Living between different cultures can prove to be difficult; especially when they are polar opposites that have different expectations. What the film does so cleverly is use the power of art (in this case music) to remind viewers that old and new roots shape the spirit in unimaginable ways. One does not have to literally relate to the story in order to feel that art can shape someone’s life in a profound manner.
New Line and Warner Bros. purchased the worldwide distribution rights to the film for $15 million; a release date has yet to be scheduled.