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The Blind Side review

Jennifer Choi on an award-winning film that can't quite see where it's going

Published on March 9th 2010.


The Blind Side review

Movies based on true story are always tricky. As are movies based on (best-selling) novels. Add the two together and you've pretty much killed your chances of pleasing anybody. That's kind of what happened to The Blind Side. Yes, the same Academy-award nominated Blind Side for which Sandra Bullock has just won an Oscar. Stay with me.

Whilst heart-warming and all American, the film is also the following: a classic essay on white guilt; a moving story of a triumph over social mobility; a bureaucrat's investigation borne of football rivalry; and a study of the prominent Christian and football culture in redneck-county. That's a lot to cover, in any detail, in 128 minutes.

It’s a bit of a shame, because Michael Oher's story is the textbook definition of extraordinarily inspiring random acts of kindness. It's not something Hollywood can get away with making up without risking outrage and ridicule, but by its very nature, it is the poster-child for Hollywood. In excess of 300lb bulk, with a crack-addict mother and blinged-out gangster acquaintances from Hurt Village (a 'project') Oher, is literally picked off the streets and propelled to stardom after a model upper-middle class family and their wealthy Republican community tap into his potential as a left tackle on the American football fields.

At the hands of director John Lee Hancock, the fleshing out of this very straight-forward premise is confused and over-complicated. Between Leigh Anne's (played by Bullock) constant navel grazing in helping Oher out, a supposedly bittersweet but unconvincing encounter with Oher's biological mother, and the subsequent controversy surrounding the Tuohy family's ulterior motives for adopting Oher, the film loses steam, direction and its audience. The Blind Side felt more like a tribute with scenes inserted for sake of completeness rather than cohesion.

The film was admittedly well-received in the US, with the release timed to coincide with feel-good Thanksgiving as well as the NFL season entering into its decisive phases. Perhaps the audience and critics alike were able to overlook The Blind Side's lack of merit as a piece of cinema.

As it readies itself for release to a mostly non-'football'-mad UK audience however, it's going to win us over by the over-dramatisation of freckled SJ, the hilariously precocious toddler sidekick to Oher, some gool ol' Bullock comedy fare (if you can get past the lapses in her accent), and a brief but excellent interlude examining The Charge of the Light Brigade. Oh, and also the testosterone-fuelled moments of violence, typical of NFL matches.

6/10

The Blind Side is on general release in the UK from 26 March.

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