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Here is a good-natured and likable movie – though machine-tooled to an internationally accepted feelgood standard – by Gurinder Chadha, who directed Bend It Like Beckham. Well, this is Sing It Like Springsteen. Or Live it Like Springsteen. It is adapted from Greetings from Bury Park, journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir about growing up in an unromantic suburb of Luton in Bedfordshire during the Thatcherite 80s, dealing with loneliness, racism, unemployment and the first pangs of love – and finding that rock music is his salvation. (The movie also shows him finding, like so many in that generation blessed with the weekly newsprint edition of the NME, that reading and writing about rock music is his salvation.)
Viveik Kalra is Javed, a young man who yearns to be a writer, to the consternation of his first-generation Pakistani-born dad, Malik, and anxious mum, Noor (there are lovely performances by Kulvinder Ghir and Meera Ganatra). Javed is drifting morosely through life, but when he first hears Bruce Springsteen on his Walkman, it is an epiphany: the Boss’s passionate lyrics about small-town life speak to him, although New Jersey is a lot cooler than Luton.
It’s an entertaining and watchable film, with horribly convincing reconstructions of what shopping centres and jobcentres looked like in 1987. It arguably doesn’t have the directness and force of Bend Like It Beckham: there, Parminder Nagra’s Jess hero worships David Beckham and wants to be a footballer; here, Javed hero worships Bruce Springsteen and … doesn’t want to be a rock-star or necessarily a rock lyricist or even especially a rock journalist – but a writer. It is all affectionately managed, and there are nice cameos by Sally Phillips, Rob Brydon and Manzoor himself, glimpsed outside Luton town hall.
• Blinded By the Light is in UK cinemas on 9 August and US cinemas on 14 August.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Blinded By the Light review – feelgood tale of a Springsteen obsessive | Drama films