Why can’t we all just get along?
Oscar winner Sandra Bullock is perfectly cast in this sentimental but affecting drama about bridging the racial divide, writes Joe Griffin
WHEN DOES a trend become a trend? The Hollywoodites who make movies may be mostly liberal, but conservatives go to the cinema too. Dear John, a romantic weepy about a patriotic soldier, replaced Avatar at the top of the US box-office. And The Blind Side, an agreeable US mainstream drama about a kind Republican, is the crowning glory in Sandra Bullock’s career, bagging her a best actress Oscar and making more than $250 million at the tills.
Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a well-to-do Memphis belle. Her uneventful life of expensive lunches and chauffeuring her children takes an unexpected turn when she meets Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). The only black student in the local high school, Michael, neglected by his parents, sleeps on a neighbour’s couch and keeps his one spare shirt in a plastic bag. When Leigh Anne sees him out walking one evening, she invites him to stay in her home.
This hulking, virtually silent teenager is initially a mediocre student and passive athlete, barely able to follow the basics of American football. But Leigh Anne notices his protective instincts and encourages him to defend his teammates’ blind side.
Director and co-scripter John Lee Hancock (who also wrote Kevin Costner’s underrated A Perfect World) has created a tale of two cities: In rich Memphis, The Good Samaritan deeds of Leigh Anne and her family are looked upon with understandable bewilderment. And the film acknowledges that some white parents would be uncomfortable taking a young black man to live in the same house as their teenage daughter.
Another uncomfortable truth is playfully referred to when Michael’s home tutor (Kathy Bates) reveals her political leanings. As Leigh Anne’s husband comments, “Who would’ve thought that we’d have a black son before we’d meet a Democrat?”
Some scenes are less than convincing. By far the least plausible scene has Leigh Anne confidently (and without repercussions) driving her fancy car to the ghetto and threatens a gang to leave Michael alone.
The Blind Side is sentimental and a little too long, but it’s also sincere and well-told. In the tough but good-hearted Leigh Anne, Bullock has found a perfect fit; a wellwritten character that sits nicely between the feisty roles that put her on the A-list (Speed, The Net) and the romantic comedies that have kept her there.
All in the family: Jae Head, Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock