The 1980s is a time and place that divides opinion. It was the era of synthetic pop, big hair and turbo charged shoulder pads.
Thatcherism had turned on the many in favour of the few; a society based on greed and self-interest. Three million unemployed and declining industries were all symptoms of free enterprise. But through it all, we had our music.
Teenage angst was always best captured in a pop song; and we knew someone, somewhere would articulate our feelings. So Blinded By The Light will resonate with many; but like any period in our lives the brighter parts will always stand out more.
Luton 1987: the very essence of commuter belt mediocrity. Javed (Viveik Kalra) is a 16 year old Asian boy smothered by a traditional Moslem upbringing. He longs to be a writer but father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) is insistent he study economics and qualify as an accountant. However, Javed secretly enrols on an English course at sixth form college. He is immediately smitten by class warrior Eliza (Nell Williams) and dreams of dating her.
Everything changes when Roops (Aaron Phagura) introduces Javed to Bruce Springsteen. Songs bursting with blue collar pride and attitude are a revelation. Life begins to make sense and he pursues Eliza with renewed courage. Best friend Matt (Dean Charles Chapman) is an aspiring popstar and hopes this new found confidence will produce a song lyric or two.
However, a storm breaks as Malik is made redundant from his job at General Motors. Mother Noor (Meera Ganatra) toils on a sewing machine to make extra money for the family pot. Javed is now under pressure to support the family but will his dreams be dashed?
Based on a true story, the narrative of Blinded By The Light hangs together reasonably well and there are some pleasing cameos from Rob Brydon, Hayley Atwell and Sally Phillips. A promising storyline benefits from a backdrop of economic strife and racial tension. But momentum is lost when the film breaks into Broadway musical mode. Characters running through Luton, punching the air as Born to run plays does the film no favours.
Similarly, Javed reciting the lyrics of Springsteen is self-indulgent and vaguely ridiculous. I was obsessed with pop music in my teens but didn't quote Paul Weller songs mid-sentence. All of which undermines an otherwise enjoyable romp through the decade that style forgot.
One of these days Gurinder Chadha will make a great movie; but unfortunately this isn't it.
Watch the movie trailer for Blinded By The Light.