Well, my own introduction to the music of Springsteen took place in 1978 in a long since closed record shop called "Graffiti" in the centre of Glasgow when I was 17 or so. At the time, my taste for classic rock was already established but I was also excited by the punk / new wave sound which was getting played on the radio and hitting the charts. I think I knew the song "Born To Run" but other than some keen music journalists and those that had seen his celebrated London Hammersmith gig in 1975, I'd hardly heard of Broooce. He was nowhere on the U.K. charts and besides hadn't made a record in three years. Then, in that shop, they started playing the newly released "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" album and I did something I've never done before or since, I walked up to the sales counter on impulse and bought it there and then. So I do get the premise of this British-made film about how an ambitious and talented young Pakistani boy, a budding writer, feeling trapped in dull-as-dishwater 1980's Luton in the middle of the grey, depressing Thatcher years when unemployment hit record levels, coping with his over-strict, traditionalist father, struggling to express himself in his writing and also to get himself a girlfriend, could find a release in Springsteen's heartfelt tales of ever-hopeful "losers...pulling out of here to win" to borrow from "Thunder Road".
Young Viveik Kalra plays the growing lad Javed in question who finds a sympathetic rallying call echoing to him all the way from Asbury Park, New Jersey, for all his mixed-up teenage emotions once another superfan Sikh schoolmate introduces him to The Boss's music. The film tugs hard at the heartstrings as the son is pitched against his overbearing father, falls out with his best mate, a white kid a few doors down for whose synth-pop band he knocks off song lyrics in his spare time, ditto his Clare Grogan-lookalike, politically conscious white girlfriend while also contending with the ominous presence of the overt right wing racism of the National Front, who were then on the march.
Of course, everything ends happily with Javed getting the girl, patching it up with dad and even winning a trip to a college in New Jersey, right on Springsteen's doorstep, but along the way, there's plenty of teen angst and humour too, whilst in the background almost every track Springsteen cut between 1973 - 1985 is heard in some way, shape or form.
Sure the film could perhaps have made bigger statements against the vile politics of the National Front, said something bigger about Sikh / Muslim relationships or taken more of a stand against arranged marriages in the Pakistani community to mention just three background themes worthy of deeper inspection, but I readily appreciate that as a family entertainment feature it wasn't going to end anything other than happily and while cliche and over-sentimentality do occasionally get a look in, especially at Javed's prize-acceptance speech at the end, which handily reconciles him to his old dad, there are also welcome interjections of humour, like when he and his mate hijack the Tiffany and Debbie Gibson-loving school dee-jay's playlist to blast out "Born To Run" and especially his meet up with new girlfriend Eliza's Conservative parents caricatured as Basil and Sybil Fawlty types.
Despite the sometimes uneasy mixture of laughs with social commentary, I found the film easy to watch, hard to dislike and nicely played by the talented and enthusiastic young cast, all of whom were new to me. While the lyrics of say the Clash or Sex Pistols spoke out more to my 17 year old self, Springsteen's music was in the ether too and I'm confident the man himself would have approved of the way his music is portrayed here, although it will probably help enjoyment of the feature if you're also a fan of his.
0 out of 0 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.