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Feel-Good Crowd-Pleaser 'Blinded by the Light' Turns Bruce Springsteen's Music Into a Coming-of-Age Movie

Set in the 80s, it earned rave reviews at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
By Sarah Ward
May 19, 2019
By Sarah Ward
May 19, 2019

Listening to a song, discovering a musician for the first time and feeling like they're speaking directly to you: it's a moment that everyone can relate to. It's also the premise for Blinded by the Light, a new coming-of-age movie which wowed this year's Sundance Film Festival with its enormous love of Bruce Springsteen.

The Boss' tunes don't just feature on the film's soundtrack (17 of them, in fact). They actually inspired the entire flick, jukebox musical-style. It's based on the experiences of Springsteen-obsessed journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, with the Pakistan-born British broadcaster also co-writing the script, which is set in 80s-era England at the height of Thatcherism. He's no ordinary fan, either, having seen the denim-loving singer perform live more than 150 times.

Narrative-wise, Blinded by the Light follows 16-year-old Javed (film newcomer Viveik Kalra), whose life changes when he's given a couple of Bruce's cassette tapes. You could say he's born to run, feels like he's on fire and is suddenly dancing in the dark — but, used to being under his strict parents' watch and being an outcast at school, he just finds hope in the music of a rocker from New Jersey.

In the director's and co-writer's chair sits someone with a background in cross-culture teen-focused Brit pictures, Bend It Like Beckham filmmaker Gurinder Chadha. Plus, as well as Kalra, the film stars Hayley Atwell, Sally Phillips and Rob Bryden.

If Blinded by the Light sounds a little like another feel-good, 80s-set, music-fuelled, high school-oriented British standout from a few years back, Sing Street, that's definitely not a bad thing.

Tap your toes along to the trailer below:

Blinded by the Light screens at this year's Sydney Film Festival, then releases in cinemas around Australia on August 22.

Published on May 19, 2019 by Sarah Ward


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