Review #475 - The Blind Side (2009)


Director:  John Lee Hancock 
Cast:  Quinton Aaron, Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw
Plot:  The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family. 

Genre:  Drama / Sport 
Awards:  Won 1 Oscar - Best Leading Actress.  Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Picture.
Runtime:  128min 
Rating:  PG for one scene involving brief violence, drug and sexual references. 

If Sandra Bullock hadn’t won the Golden Globe for best actress, I would have given The Blind Side a miss. Thankfully she won, and I have every reason to catch the film because of her triumph. Written and directed by John Lee Hancock, who is not exactly a skilled filmmaker considering he made average movies such as The Rookie (2002) and The Alamo (2004), The Blind Side is a step in the right direction for him.

The film is based on the true story of Michael Oher, also known (unaffectionately) as Big Mike. He is a black, eighteen year old high-school student living a life of loneliness and desperation with no family and friends to support him financially and socially.

Michael who is played by Quinton Aaron is also very huge. He reminds me of Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) in Frank Darabont’s The Green Mile (1999). Some parallels can be drawn. Both Michael and Coffey are blacks at probably the lowest point in their lives – Coffey is on death row for a brutal crime, and Michael’s future is next to hopeless.

Both are then ‘rescued’ by whites. Coffey meets Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), his executioner, who forms a spiritual relationship with him; Michael is lifted from the streets and brought into the materialistic comforts of a luxury home owned by an affluent white family.

Bullock’s Leigh Anne Tuohy is a highly-driven woman who gets what she wants, and it is her decision to take Michael in, and later, offers to be his official legal guardian. Bullock finally gets the recognition she deserves as a quality actress. She is the undisputed star of the film, oozing screen presence in each scene she is in.

The director tries to make Michael the focal point of the film as this is a story about the positive transformations in his life, but Bullock’s performance seems to steal the limelight away from him, albeit a little unfairly. The Blind Side thus becomes quite unbalanced, tilting towards and favoring Bullock even though she is not (narrative-wise) a lead figure.

The film’s football scenes remind of the recent Clint Eastwood sports drama Invictus (2009). But in The Blind Side, its sporting scale is smaller, though when put in context its importance is by no means any lesser. Michael’s achievement in football, and to a certain extent, in academia boils down to the support of his new ‘family’, which not coincidentally, is the film’s core takeaway message.

The director also just about manages to make us care for the characters. In a key scene involving an accident, emotions run high as we worry about the plight of a couple of characters. During weaker parts when the film’s conventionality becomes apparent, Bullock’s display eases us through to a heartwarming conclusion.

GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)

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