In ‘Blinded By The Light,' Growing Up With The Boss
AppleMagazine|August 16, 2019

After starring roles for Freddie Mercury (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), Elton John (“Rocketman”) and the Beatles (“Yesterday”), it’s Bruce Springsteen’s turn to join the mixtape that the movies have lately become.

But Gurinder Chadha’s “Blinded by the Light” isn’t about the Boss’ life or how he recorded his hits. It’s about hearing him — and not in Asbury Park but far away in the British industrial town of Luton, where the British-Pakistani 16-year-old Javed (newcomer Viveik Kalra) finds in Springsteen’s working-class anthems the sound of his soul. When Javed, beleaguered by his overbearing father (Kulvinder Ghir) and feeling hopeless in Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 Britain, presses play on his Walkman one lonely night, he’s almost instantly transformed by “Dancing in the Dark.”

The thrill of being turned on to music has long been a dangerous territory for filmmakers. It’s precariously easy to sound cheesy when it comes to rhapsodizing about music. There was great joy in Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous” craving for the raw power of the Velvet Underground: “Gimme some ‘White Light/White Heat!’” But more common are cringe-worthy scenes like Natalie Portman playing the Shins for Zach Braff and telling him they will “change your life” in “Garden State.”

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