Michael Jones’s review published on Letterboxd:
I can’t think of a more clear example of a film that contains so much not-good-ness to the point where it’s slightly pathetic charm makes it an absolute fucking unadulterated joy. It’s a stupid compliment, but no more clear than in one incredibly cheesy scene, where Javid, hurt by his father’s redundancy, finally tries out that Springsteen cassette his mate gave him. As he runs out of the house, dancing and singing in the wind, the words of Springsteen fly across the screen. It’s in that utter joyous cheese that Chadha stumbles accross a delightful way to bring together each of the previously un-connected threads of parental trappings, racism, a desire to write, Thatcher’s Britain, and a search for love. As Springsteen speaks to Javid, we see the light as much as he does.
From there on, and I don’t say this lightly, Blinded by the Light bounds through its plot points with a pure happiness only seen in Paddington 2. It’s Paddington 2 level happy. Chadha shows her love of everything from Pakistan, poems, Springsteen, activism, weird musical breaks, and daytime Asian raves. And, somehow just adding to the joy of her film, she shows her detestation of Tories. And somehow even in the quasi-musical forest of 2019, Chadha uses her musical inspiration differently. This isn’t a tool to sell soundtracks (though I’d totally buy one), or win a Best Song Academy Award. The music isn’t even in the film to add to the joy. Springsteen’s music is used purely for its poetry. This isn’t a film about music, it’s a film about writing. Springsteen’s words speak to Javid, sending him down paths to his own self-discovery, and self-less discoveries too.
As always with Secret Screenings, half of the audience walked when they saw they were being made to watch a film about a brown guy. The same thing happened with The Hate U Give, as well as Love, Simon on a slightly different level of bigotry. But we’re at the point now where Gurinder Chadha could be considered as a true great in British cinema, how an audience in the north of England could walk out of a film that shouts out Twiglets, calls Luton shit, and says ‘fuck Thatcher’ I’ll never understand. But this is a delight. I mean it, it’s Paddington 2 level happy.