There is much to love about Blinded By The Light, the movie of Sarfraz Manzoor’s autobiographical Greetings from Bury Park. In fact, in a normal movie year, it would I think have attracted overwhelmingly positive reviews, rather than the so-so and sometimes downright snarky (Guardian review being on that end of the spectrum).
However, in the year that’s given us Rocketman, Yesterday and Amazing Grace (see previous review of these here) the Springsteen-inspired Blinded… has some hard acts to follow, particularly in the case of Rocketman. That movie really set the bar for me in terms of characters suddenly bursting into song, a concept I’m not particularly keen on, as I’ve said previously, and, I’m afraid, Blinded… limboes comfortably under that bar. Its bursting into song bits are the worst aspect of it for me, actually.
Still, this coming of age movie set in Luton, with an Asian lad suddenly being blinded by the brilliance of Bruce Springsteen has much to commend it. Great music, obviously. And a plot that, despite being fairly blindingly obvious, reaches out to all of us whose adolescence was made a tad better by exposure to the Boss’s tunes. Given that, it’s maybe hard to be objective – as in if you just don’t get Springsteen, it might not be the movie for you.
I came to Springsteen maybe 8 or 9 years before Manzoor’s conversion, but age and race differences apart, it was something of a similar Damascene moment (albeit Springsteen, for me, never quite toppled Dylan off his pedestal until Dylan himself jumped from it, some time in the mid-80s). I can’t pretend to have had the same difficulties of race and culture clash that Manzoor had – the film has enough grit to show what that must have been like, and may well still be – but let me tell you, Glenrothes in 1979 was just as much a place you wanted to bust out of on a motorcycle with a girl called Wendy as Luton in 1987.
In a way, of course, I never did escape. In other ways I did – and some day, Wendy, physically, as well as emotionally, artistically and digitally, we’re going to get to that place where we really wanna go and we’ll walk in the sun. Although your name’s Alison, obviously.
Till then, here’s a video I did a while back about all of that.
Only runaway American dreams down here