Blinded by the Light (4 stars)

Blinded by the Light

Bruce Springsteen provides the soundtrack for a joyful musical comedy focusing on a misfit teen

A British Pakistani teen discovers a love for the songs of Bruce Springsteen in this joyful musical comedy from director Gurinder Chadha. Set in 1987, it's based on the memoir by Springsteen fanatic Sarfraz Manzoor and stars the amiable Viveik Kalra as Javed, a misfit who struggles to relate to his family, neighbours and, above all, girls. A chance meeting at his new sixth form college introduces him to the music of 'The Boss' and, overnight, his life is changed. He feels understood, and inspired to produce more poetry, eliciting the attention of Eliza (Nell Williams). Cue skipping down the streets of Luton to Springsteen numbers.

If this mix of comical period drama, song, dance and magic realism occasionally feels forced, it's unlikely to really bother those who respond to its themes. Many of us remember music being a huge part of our teenage years, and you could substitute Bruce for any act that made you feel the same way. If you are a Springsteen fan, of course, it's heaven: a celebration that belts out everything from 'Dancing in the Dark' to 'Born to Run', as well as hits from A-ha and Pet Shop Boys. Poignantly, this explores the idea that people feeling isolated in their home environment can be connected by music to the other side of the world. Topically, it paints a portrait of suburban racism that should be long in the past.

The supporting cast includes Hayley Atwell, Sally Phillips and Kulvinder Ghir, playing the father who insists that Springsteen must be Jewish, a community he respects for their work ethic and perceived avoidance of girls. Rob Brydon drops in for some of the cheesiest comedy numbers: this isn't going to win any prizes for subtlety. But, if you want an uplifting musical with the spirit of Chadha's most famous film Bend It Like Beckham, then step right up. Just know that no-one's hair looked that slick in the 80s.

General release from Fri 9 Aug.

Blinded by the Light

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • UK
  • 1h 54min
  • Directed by: Gurinder Chadha
  • Cast: Viveik Kalra, Kulvinder Ghir, Meera Ganatra
  • UK release: 9 August 2019

In 1982 Luton, Javed (Kalra) is a misfit who struggles to relate to family, neighbours and girls until he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen. A joyful musical comedy about how music connects people; if it sometimes feels forced, and isn’t going to win prizes for subtlety, it’s still uplifting fun.