Llanelli Star - - FILM REVIEWS -

IN 1984, Bruce Spring­steen raged against his sense of iso­la­tion and alien­ation in the lyrics to Danc­ing In The Dark. He crafted a pop clas­sic from heart­felt self-anal­y­sis – “I’m just tired and bored with my­self”; “There’s a joke here some­where and it’s on me” – search­ing for a glim­mer of hope in the fug be­cause as he notes in the cho­rus “You can’t start a fire with­out a spark”.

Blinded By The Light har­nesses that raw en­ergy as a toe-tap­ping sound­track to one down­trod­den Bri­tish Pak­istani i teenager’s self-awak­en­ing be­neath the bright lights of 1980s Lu­ton.

Adapted from Sar­fraz Man­soor’s mem­oir Greet­ings From Bury Park, di­rec­tor Gurinder Chadha’s up­lift­ing com­ing-of-age com­edy is com­posed to fa­mil­iar emo­tional beats in­clud­ing an ex­u­ber­ant sprint through town to the in­sis­tent thrum of Born To Run.

It’s up­lift­ing fare with a killer sound­track of Spring­steen’s great­est hits, which pro­vides a brisk tempo to the war of words be­tween the teenage pro­tag­o­nist and his fa­ther, who sternly re­bukes: “You will al­ways be Pak­istani, you will never be Bri­tish!”

At a time when far-right pol­i­tics seem to be strik­ing a chord across Europe with dis­en­fran­chised vot­ers, the in­tol­er­ance and di­vi­sion pro­jected through Chadha’s lens is un­com­fort­ably rel­e­vant.

Six­teen-year-old Javed (Viveik Kalra) en­ters sixth form with a mount­ing sense of dread.

He in­dulges his love of mu­sic by pen­ning lyrics for best friend and neigh­bour Matt (Dean-Charles Chap­man), who is in a band.

How­ever, any dreams of writ­ing full-time, which are fanned by teacher Ms Clay (Hayley Atwell), must be ex­tin­guished to be a du­ti­ful son to his seam­stress mother Noor (Meera Gana­tra), and fa­ther Ma­lik (Kul­vin­der Ghir), who works on the pro­duc­tion line of the lo­cal Vaux­hall car plant.

When Ma­lik is un­ex­pect­edly made re­dun­dant, ten­sions within the fam­ily home ex­plode and the pres­sure in­ten­si­fies on Javed to marry and set­tle down when what he re­ally wants to do is “kiss a girl and get out of this dump”.

Class­mate El­iza (Nell Williams) al­lows Javed to ful­fil the first part of that dream but an escape from Lu­ton seems frus­trat­ingly out of reach un­til fel­low sixth for­mer Roops (Aaron Ph­agura) loans Javed his Spring­steen cas­settes.

The lyrics in­spire the teenager to chal­lenge his fa­ther’s author­ity: “I don’t want to be your son. I want to be more than that!”

Blinded By The Light is a re­turn to crowd-pleas­ing form for Chadha with strong per­for­mances and earthy hu­mour com­ple­ment­ing her un­abashed af­fec­tion for the char­ac­ters.

Kalra is an en­dear­ing mis­fit, who feels a deep con­nec­tion to Spring­steen’s lyrics, and the ro­man­tic sub­plot with Williams sim­mers gen­tly.

The film sparks with en­ergy and nos­tal­gic pe­riod de­tail but doesn’t quite start the fire de­manded by The Boss.

Re­gard­less, au­di­ences will be danc­ing in the dark of lo­cal cin­e­mas.

Born to run: Aaron Ph­agura as Roops, Nell Williams as El­iza and Viveik Kalra as Javed Viveik Kalra as Javed

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