If you generally like Bruce Springsteen’s music, odds are that you’ll be deeply entertained Blinded by the Light. However, if you’re a huge fan of The Boss, you’ll not only love the movie, but you’ll also probably find yourself dancing, singing along and cheering while you watch it. That’s because it features 17 of Springsteen’s early‐career songs, and at some points the film transforms into a full‐blown musical.

What’s even better is that its story is based on the memoir of real‐life mega‐Boss fan Sarfraz Manzoor (a co‐writer of the film, directed by Bend it like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha), who credits Springsteen’s music with changing his life. Manzoor has seen Bruce in concert more than 150 times at this point — be sure you stay through the end credits to see pictures of them together!

The lovable newcomer Viveik Kalra plays Javed, a fictionalized version of Manzoor. He’s a British teen of Pakistani descent who, in 1987, feels stuck and suffocated in the working‐class town of Luton, England. Unemployment rates are high, jobs are scarce, racism is rampant and everyone is stressed — most of all Javed’s father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir, pulling off a complex performance). Malik and his wife (Meera Ganatra) have worked themselves to the bone for their children, and Malik is terrified that Javed is going to destroy any chance he has for a better future if he remains hell‐bent on becoming a writer.

Encouraging him on the writing front are his new teacher Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell), his new crush Eliza (Nell Williams), and his best friend Matt (Dean‐Charles Chapman, who played Tommen Baratheon on Game of Thrones and I didn’t realize it until right now). And, of course, Bruce’s music. Javed has been writing poetry since he was a young child, and has countless journals and diaries filled with his hopes, dreams and fears. But he sees no way to successfully follow his passion — until a friend (Aaron Phagura) introduces him to The Boss.

Javed is stunned to hear his own frustrations echoed by a gruff white dude who lives halfway across the world, and is immediately hooked. Even if you aren’t familiar with all of the Springsteen songs (or the other great late ‘80s hits) incorporated into the film, you’ll likely be able to remember a time when you wanted to change your clothes, your hair or your face to emulate a hero. (In my case that hero was Olivia Newton‐John as Kira in Xanadu. Don’t judge.) That’s why for me, the movie is about more than Springsteen’s music — it’s about all music, and how certain songs can speak to each of us differently and represent specific memories or turning points in our lives.

Once Javed fully embraces The Boss, the movie really takes off and is straight‐up joyous in parts — a highlight being the “Born to Run” sequence, which I can’t imagine anyone NOT enjoying the hell out of. But what surprised and struck me most about the film was its many parallels to present‐day America. I’ll let you figure those out for yourself.

Once Javed fully embraces The Boss, the movie really takes off and is straight‐up joyous in parts — a highlight being the “Born to Run” sequence, which I can’t imagine anyone NOT enjoying the hell out of. But what surprised and struck me most about the film was its many parallels to present‐day America. I’ll let you figure those out for yourself.

I saw Blinded by the Light a few months ago during the Chicago Film Critics Festival, and we had Kalra come in for a Q&A after the screening. He was such a genuine guy that it endeared me to the film even more, and I can’t wait to see how a wider audience embraces it now that it’s hitting theaters across the country this weekend. If you’re looking to be inspired — or if you simply need something to put a smile on your face — this is the movie for you.

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