Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Friday, 16 September 2011
The Blind Side
The film tells the true story of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless youth taken in by wealthy Christian interior designer Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), who treats him as a son, helping his school grades go up and helping him channel his attention and size into becoming an incredibly talented and powerful football player.
The film is a quite sensitive story that is as much Michael's as it is Leigh Anne's, and which demonstrates the contrast between the rich and the poor, as well as the deep importance that love and strong relationships truly have. Michael's story in both real life and the film is a typical, yet moving rags to riches type story, albeit it is one that involves help from a person willing to make the effort, unlike the rags to riches of Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and is quite moving as Aaron beautifully depicts the nervousness and shyness of one whom has been opressed his entire life, through wonderful facial expressions. Leigh Anne's true story depicts a woman who is desperate to help Michael become the best he can be, through a combination of maternal love and instinct, her Christian duty, and her belief that everyone deserves a chance in life, in a fantastic Oscar-winning performance from Bullock that is packed full of heartfelt emotion.
The idea of how Leigh Anne's views that everyone deserves an equal chance in life threatens to get self-contradicted though, when Leigh Anne goes to the hood, and makes it clear to the ridiculously stereotypical hoodies that effectively they are worth next to nothing and deserve the life they have, which also contradicts the fact that as a Christian she surely believes we are all equal in the eyes of God, and made in his image as I do, although one could argue that these hoodies have got to the point where they aren't going to get anywhere in life and are unable to do anything about it - early 20s, no qualifications, no prospects. As for the idea of family love and the importance of it, this is so clear in Michael and the relationships he has with Leigh Anne, her husband Sean (Tim McGraw) and her kids Collins (Lily Collins) and SJ (Jae Head), all of which are loving and protective, as well as successful in building Michael's confidence, and realising that he has a talent which he excels in, and which are created perfectly by the cast who really click and display a great on screen bond.
Although the film displays successfully the competitiveness of football, the film does however, understate just how brutal it can be, with the only example of true brute force in the game being displayed when Michael takes down his opponents with raw power. These moments really display just how brutal a game can be when you have at least 130 kilos of almost solid muscle playing, however, the rest of the players seem so easy to take down, and it does not feel at all natural, rather quite rehearsed instead, which does not make successful on screen football.
The film's other big issue is the screenplay. Although it is quite sensitive in places, as mentioned above, it does get quite underdeveloped and not that grown up in places. For example, the hoodies are all stereotypes - listen to loud rap music, swear and use slang, drink, give death threats and in one case are single teenage parents, and although the real Michael Oher may have come from a ghetto like this, one feels that it is too much of a stereotypical class difference between the Tuohys and hoodies. The other problem is the film's pacing, as one minute it is family life, the next sorting Michael's school work out, the next a football game and with trips to the ghetto coming in at various points, and the film jumps from one of these events to the next with many of them receiving little development and also dialogue that is not as powerful as one would expect when one considers the themes of the film.
For myself, however, another issue with the film is that the themes of Christianity are quite underdeveloped. In terms of a Christian household, the only signs one sees are the fact that they say Grace before Thanksgiving dinner and the kids going to a Christian school. In the film both teachers at the school and Leigh Anne talk about their moral Christian duty, which is all well and good to a certain extent, but one would expect a lot more reference to the life of Christ and the words of the Bible when explaining why they do their deeds, seeing as they have been Christians for a number of years. The other problem is how Leigh Anne's narration closes as she thanks God for Michael (SPOILER ALERT) getting into college and then also thanks Lawrence Taylor. Now, would a practicing Christian who raises her kids as Christian really thank Lawrence Taylor almost as much as she would thank God. Really? Would she? I'm certainly not convinced, and it does make for a poor final line to the film.
Sensitive the film is, and moving in places as well, but it is a rather flawed film indeed, and also understates the theme of Christianity that is meant to be an important part of the film. It's a reasonable film, but it is not brilliant, not by a long shot, despite the fact it has a strong cast lead by Aaron and Bullock.
Stars: Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Lily Collins, Jae Head, Ray McKinnon, Kathy Bates, Kim Dickens, Adriane Lenox.
Oscar: Best Actress (Sandra Bullock).
Oscar nomination: Best Picture (Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson).