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Blinded by the Light

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Blinded by the Light

Blinded By the Light opens in the 1980s and introduces us to Jared (Viveik Kalra), a young man who tells us “I’ve spent 35 years trying to let go of the destructive parts of my character.” Watching him show us those decades is pure pleasure. There are no weak parts of this boy’s character, but he is born to a kindly mother and a tough, uncompromising father (Kulvinder Ghir) who tries to determine every detail of his son’s life.

As an immigrant from Pakistan, the father settled his family in Luton, England, a small town with a poor, sometimes violent culture. From his Pakistani culture, he brought with him a father’s total power over his children. This man orders his teenage son to prepare himself for law school or any other acceptable route to success and power. But Jared already knows who he is; he is a writer. As the film shows us the power of fathers in the Pakistani culture, we settle in to watch Jared find the strength to become himself. You will love the process. Watching him grow is pure pleasure.

When a friend gives him a Bruce Springsteen tape, time passes before he listens to it but when he does, we watch the boy as he is captured. Both the words and the music soak him with the joy of searching which is exactly where he is and what he needs. The young writer who is excited about leaving his old life is on fire.

We watch Jared as he absorbs the encouragement of the Springsteen lyrics and responds to the music itself. With his new confidence, he stands up to his father and continues on his much loved path of writing music. This whole process rests on actor Viveik Kalra’s shoulders as he does a masterful job of creating Jared – never under or overacted, simply a human being who suddenly develops new confidence in his own dreams. We quickly join his team and we stay there.

One of those dreams is to visit New Jersey to see Springsteen’s house. When Jared manages to get there, we see that his visit reinforces his own progress in a wonderful way. He has broken his father’s harsh plan for his future and is following his own dream. His friendship with Roops (Aaron Phagura) who had given him the first tape is fun and mutually supportive. His relationship with Eliza (Nell Williams) is great fun to watch as the shy boy gains his own confidence.

You are not likely to ever again hear Springsteen’s music without thinking of Jared’s story. It gave him permission to become himself and who he is happens to be a kind, bright aspiring poet set free from all restrictions. Don’t look for things not to like. Just jump on board with a talented young actor creating a character who wins us all. Actor Viveik Kalra is here for a long run.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Blinded By the Light
Word Count : 493
Running Time : 1:58
Rating : PG-13
Date : 25 August 2019

Wild Rose

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Wild Rose

How can a young woman capture us with an impossible dream? Wild Rose does just that by joining the inspired abilities of a singer/actor, a writer, and a director in creating on-screen magic. Actor Jessie Buckley becomes Rose-Lynn, a young mother with a beautiful voice and gut level determination. She lives a simple family life in Glasgow with her family and without any path to her dream of becoming a country singer in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Rose-Lynn hates earning her living by cleaning the house of Susannah, a beautiful woman who sees the talent in the young singer and becomes an enabler. Rose-Lynn’s children are being raised by their grandmother and her separation from them, necessary as it might be to her career, is a heartbreaker for all around her as well as for us in the audience. Her son fights her; her daughter stares in resentment, and disappointment spreads in the audience.

Though painting the portrait of this single-minded young singer goes on too long, it does hammer home the depth of her dream along with the flip side of the hurt to her family. It’s a long lead-in that does its job. Local success is not what Roselyn wants and, with help from Susannah, she heads for Nashville.

That’s enough revelation from me about a movie that surprises us with the unexpected in the best of ways. We are grateful the kids have Rose-Lynn’s fine mother (Julie Walters) and her big supporter Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) to run the home front. At this point the movie bursts into her inevitable success in Nashville and it’s a terrific ride. The country music and her voice so perfectly suited to it are a genuine pleasure for the audience.

Is that all? Hardly. We’re in for a terrific windup as the now big-time country singer explores her success. She has done what she always wanted to do. What happens next is a surprise that is explored as carefully as the initial down phase was. We watch Rose-Lynn’s reactions to her deserved Nashville success along with the fine character traits that were planted long ago by her mother. The unexpected windup is all we could hope for and it is handed to us gradually and with startling originality.

The strength of this story is built by Jessie Buckley’s startling creation of Rose-Lynn along with the lovely performance by Julie Walters as her mother. The gut plot was handed to these two gifted actors by writer Nicole Taylor and director Tom Harper.

Because I can’t resist a personal P.S., I add that as newly-weds living in Washington, my husband and I used to drive on weekends to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium where the featured player was a rising young singer named Loretta Lynn. The Ryman was wrapped in cultural magic. I wasn’t the only one in that audience who was brought to tears when Wild Rose captures the magic of that place so beautifully.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Wild Rose
Word Count : 495
Running Time : l:41
Rating : R
Date : 21 July 2019

This review was posted on July 21, 2019, in Drama, Musical.