“Bruce Is The Direct Line To All That’s True In This Shitty World…”
Winning the award for least surprising “secret” screening as introduced by your local Cineworld earlier in the month, Blinded by the Light is the type of a-typical, good natured crowd-pleaser which Cineworld members have come to expect in recent times from the sporadic and hotly anticipated hidden previews such a cinema chain bowls out from time to time, with the likes of The Hate U Give and Green Book from previous secret screenings following along the likes of movies which sort of tick all the boxes for a lay audience member without clearly offending anyone in this very multicultural and diverse contemporary society of ours today. Written and directed by Kenyan-born filmmaker, Gurinder Chadha, whose most famous flicks so far include Bend It Like Beckham and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, Blinded by the Light is a similarly independently British romantic comedy drama which just happens to have a central character with a film-selling addiction to The Boss himself, one Mr. Bruce Springsteen, and whilst there are undoubtedly worst addictions to have a film based upon, Chadha’s movie is a wildly inconsistent but passably enjoyable work of fluff which takes its’ Springsteen licensing levels to new extremes.
Utilising big-screen debutant, Viveik Kalra, in the lead role of Javed, and set within the turbulent political and culturally manic period of late 1980’s Britain, Chadha’s movie sees her leading star begin at a familial and social crossroads, with Javed at the centre of a divide between both his overly religious Pakistani family and the racial tensions apparent in the outside world, all of which are hindering his dreams of becoming an important literary voice on the issues of the world in which he lives. Cue an introduction to the back catalogue of New Jersey’s own rock and roll legend, Bruce Springsteen, and soon the musical segments come a-knocking, transforming the movie from a low-key, soap opera, dodgy acting and all, to a full on sing-a-thon gateway, with choreographed set pieces in the ilk of Rocketman all bowing down to the radical words of The Boss as our hero falls in love, impresses Hayley Atwell’s overly-attractive English teacher and then decides to stalk Mr. Springsteen forevermore, all the whilst racist marches take place in the background. With the movie featuring more ideas than it can practically handle, it’s no surprise really that a lack of focus on any result in it being the movie equivalent of Jackson Pollock painting, and even though I’m a sucker in some ways for the joyous celebration of rock music, Chadha’s movie is perfectly fine, but boy is it a mess.
Overall Score: 5/10
“No One’s Ever Believed It’s Possible To Live As You Do…”
Whilst Andy Serkis is the type of Hollywood star who can rarely do wrong in my own humble and completely correct opinion, his directorial debut in the form of Breathe puts aside the man we have come to know and love as Gollum, Caesar and that one armed chap from the MCU with a movie which is as far away from mystical beings and superhuman heroes as one could possibly get, with Serkis’ debut focusing on the true story of Robin and Diana Cavendish and their lifelong battle with the former’s fight with permanent paralysis after being stricken with polio. Whilst the film features a likeable leading duo in the form of Andrew Garfield and The Crown star, Claire Foy, Breathe is unfortunately a hard task of a movie, one which takes both too long to begin and an eternity to end in the space of a two hour runtime which utilises a narrative which really doesn’t have enough to say at all in order to keep its’ audience entertained throughout, and whilst there is real heart at the centre of the film’s production, Serkis’s movie is the type of movie which more often begins to grind the mind rather than warming the heart.
With an opening title which not only sets the pacing for the movie but evoked the workings of classic movies in a similar ilk to Sofia Coppola’s beautifully crafted title card in The Beguiled earlier this year, Breathe begins by handing the audience the movie’s leading relationship pretty quickly but without any real meaningful sense of substance, a decision which becomes much stranger as the film heads into a final act which easily could have been condensed into losing at least twenty minutes, twenty minutes which instead could have been spent on an opening act which focused more on the development of the meeting between Robin and Diana rather than just passing it off and expecting the audience to generate empathy from out of completely nowhere. Because of this decision, the opening act ultimately feels rushed whilst the concluding act features more endings than The Return of the King, and whilst I can enjoy saccharin sweetness when done effectively, Breathe is the type of movie which feels it necessary to flog the sympathy doll as much as possible without any of it really working. Sorry Mr. Serkis, we’re off to a rocky start.