November 18, 2019  (Web Review)

Blinded by the Light

Warner, 118 min., PG-13, DVD: $28.99, Blu-ray: $35.99, Nov. 19

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

In this heartwarming, intergenerational true-story dramedy about a Pakistani/British teen who falls in love with Bruce Springsteen’s music, filmmaker Gurinder Chadha delivers a jubilant tribute to the way that pop songs can ignite our lives. Settling in the tiny, working-class town of Luton, Javed Khan’s (Viveik Kalra) family were among the first Pakistanis on the block, drawing anti-immigrant racism from National Front fascists on a daily basis. When Javed’s stern father (Kulvinder Ghir) loses his job, things only get worse. One day, a Sikh pal (Aaron Phagura) gives Javed cassettes of Born in the U.S.A. and Darkness on the Edge of Town. Listening to Springsteen’s lyrics, Javed realizes that he’s not alone in his confusion about identity, romance, and yearning to escape. Javed yearns to be a writer but no one takes him seriously until his high school English teacher (Hayley Atwell) reads some of his work. And that opens yet another door, leading him to Asbury Park, NJ, to visit the birthplace/home of The Boss. Based on Sarfraz Manzoor’s 2007 memoir Greetings from Bury Park, this character-driven, coming-of-age story about confronting family tradition is imbued with deep emotional resonance, in no small part due to the presence of Springsteen’s music. Recommended. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include a “Memoir to Movie” behind-the-scenes featurette (6 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release are deleted and extended scenes (10 min.), “The Most Crazy Thing” production featurette (7 min.), and a bonus digital copy of the film. Bottom line: a solid extras package for an engaging true-story dramedy.] (S. Granger)