Arts & Leisure

Movie review: Blinded by the Light

VIVEIK KALRA PLAYS a young man who’s inspired by Bruce Springsteen music to pursue his passion in the movie “Blinded By the Light.”

Blinded By the Light — Running Time: 1:58 — Rating: PG-13
“Blinded By the Light” opens in the 1980s and introduces us to Jared (Viveik Kalra), a young man who tells us, “I’ve spent 35 years trying to let go of the destructive parts of my character.” Watching him show us those decades is pure pleasure. There are no weak parts of this boy’s character, but he is born to a kindly mother and a tough, uncompromising father (Kulvinder Ghir) who tries to determine every detail of his son’s life.
As an immigrant from Pakistan, the father settled his family in Luton, England, a small town with a poor, sometimes violent culture. From his Pakistani culture, he brought with him a father’s total power over his children. This man orders his teenage son to prepare himself for law school or any other acceptable route to success and power. But Jared already knows who he is; he is a writer. As the film shows us the power of fathers in the Pakistani culture, we settle in to watch Jared find the strength to become himself. You will love the process. Watching him grow is pure pleasure.
When a friend gives him a Bruce Springsteen tape, time passes before he listens to it but when he does, we watch the boy as he is captured. Both the words and the music soak him with the joy of searching, which is exactly where he is and what he needs. The young writer who is excited about leaving his old life is on fire.
We watch Jared as he absorbs the encouragement of the Springsteen lyrics and responds to the music itself. With his new confidence, he stands up to his father and continues on his much loved path of writing music. This whole process rests on actor Viveik Kalra’s shoulders as he does a masterful job of creating Jared — never under- or overacted, simply a human being who suddenly develops new confidence in his own dreams. We quickly join his team and we stay there.
One of those dreams is to visit New Jersey to see Springsteen’s house. When Jared manages to get there, we see that his visit reinforces his own progress in a wonderful way. He has broken his father’s harsh plan for his future and is following his own dream. His friendship with Roops (Aaron Phagura), who had given him the first tape, is fun and mutually supportive. His relationship with Eliza (Nell Williams) is great fun to watch as the shy boy gains his own confidence.
You are not likely to ever again hear Springsteen’s music without thinking of Jared’s story. It gave him permission to become himself and who he is happens to be a kind, bright aspiring poet set free from all restrictions. Don’t look for things not to like. Just jump on board with a talented young actor creating a character who wins us all. Actor Viveik Kalra is here for a long run.
— Reviewed by Joan Ellis

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