March 29, 2010

The Blind Side won't make you go blind

Ok. I was fully prepared to go into this movie hating it. See, I am the cynic supreme when it comes to All-American rags to riches stories.

The story: rich white woman rescues poor mega talented African-American kid from a life of despair and drugs and shit. I thought to myself: oh b-gsus. This is going to ramp up the kitsch factor to the power of eleventybillion with all the feel good accessories thrown in for bloated measure. There's going to be the swelling melodramatic music, the gloss, the do-gooders vs the nay sayers bla. And basically, the only redeeming feature will be Sandra Bullock's performance for which she won an Oscar. Since me and Oscar go way back, I also understand the Academy's approach of awarding Oscars just because its time and not necessarily because its the best performance, or the best piece of work in the nominated person's career.

Sandy talked me into going. And let me say, I'm glad.

As stated on imdb, the movie The Blind Side is based on the true story of Michael Oher, who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

Directed by John Lee Hancock, I'd like to say right off the bat, hats off to this guy. I know him primarily through his writing credits (the screenplay for "A Perfect World" and "The Midnight Garden of Good and Evil"). He is also responsible for this adapted screenplay, from Michael Lewis' book.

The film began rather oddly, during a type of interrogation scene. Think it was supposed to throw us. That was a bit clumsy and ineffectual because we didn't know what the hell was going on. The intent was clearly to mislead the audience into thinking all the dedicated efforts were for naught and once a bad apple always a bad apple or something to that effect. So stupid. The film then goes back to the past and the story is told, coming full circle at the end, where we then know what the interrogation is all about. That flaw aside, the movie was awesome.

Yes, it was kitsch, Yes, it was gloss. Yes, it had all the stereotypical characters. A perfect too-good-to-be-true very wealthy white family who are good Republican Christians. The poor black kid from abject poverty with this amazing talent that everyone sees but himself. You have the gym teacher at the posh private school who fancies himself the hero by discovering this kid. You have all the skeptical academics who need some hardcore convincing. You have the precocious wise-cracking kid, the beautiful teenage daughter, the dad who gives in to the mom, who rules the roost ie is a bit of a dominatrix.

Sounds awful, right? Well, it wasn't. Quite the contrary. It was pretty awesome. All the ingredients of a "heartwarming story of the power to overcome if someone believes in you" with musical waves washing over us at all the right places; yeah, if I had read that tag line on a movie poster, I'd have puked right on it. (Luckily, we are spared excessive advertising in these parts of the world and I honestly didn't know anything about this movie except in connection with Bullock's performance.)

The direction was pretty amazing, the script good and the performances from all the cast, nuanced and believable. Of course, the stand out performances were that of Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy and Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher. (God only knows what would have happened if Nancy Meyers had got her hands on this. The Nancy Meyers of "Its Complicated" which, despite the likes of Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, was a tub of lard)

The Blind Side gets the balance just right. No unnecessary lingering on the WASPS looking down their pert noses at the one black kid invading their terrain, no token racist remarks from the gobsmacked community (in what surely must have been a controversial move by the Tuohy family. I mean, think about it; they take in this physically massive black kid, who might seem just a little bit scary to some people). An incredibly moving and poignant movie with all the right inspiration at all the right moments.

It navigated the treacherous waters of the topic with dexterity and finesse, skipping along with ease, leaving the "is this movie racist" question behind. At least I think so. Reason I am adding that is because the blog I stole this picture off of, starts by asking: is this film racist? Um, no. At least I don't think so. And why is the race card always thrown when it involves people of different ethnic backrounds? Sure, it is a factor and part of the driving force. Still, I find that lame.


K.M. Weiland said...

Haven't seen this movie yet, but I'm looking forward to it... if only to get a load of Tim McGraw's awful hair. :p No, seriously, as a football fan, a movie fan, and a Sandra Bullock fan, it's definitely on my must-watch list.

Tatiana Lensky said...

Hey there! You'll love it, I'm sure. I was really surprised at how much I liked it and how much I cried! ; ) Very untypical for me.