The Blind Side
dir-scr John Lee Hancock
prd Broderick Johnson, Andrew A Kosove, Gil Netter
with Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Jae Head, Lily Collins, Kathy Bates, Ray McKinnon, Kim Dickens, Adriane Lenox, Catherine Dyer, Andy Stahl, Tom Nowicki
release US 20.Nov.09
09/US Alcon 2h08
The Blind Side
Mamma's boy: Aaron and Bullock

bullock mcgraw bates
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Blind Side Based on a remarkable true story, this film has quite a lot in common with PRECIOUS, although this is a much more mainstream movie with a more white-liberal perspective. But it's involving and very well-acted.

Leigh Anne (Bullock) is a Memphis housewife with a fast-food magnate husband, Sean (McGraw), and two bright, witty kids (Head and Collins). Meanwhile, the hulking, black 17-year-old Mike (Aaron) has been admitted to her daughter's posh private school, and Leigh Anne takes an interest in him when she discovers that he's essentially homeless. Eventually he becomes part of the family, emerging from his shell after a lifetime of abuse and discovering that he has a skill for American football. Although he'll need a tutor (Bates) to improve his grades so he can play.

There's an intriguing mixture of politics at work here, although everything is softened to make it more palatable for mainstream moviegoers. Leigh Anne and Sean are defined as conservatives, yet tap into viewers' liberal guilt as they generously reach out to this needy kid. Certainly, the sight of Mike mixing with this family is packed with both light comedy and dark irony, and there are some pointed scenes along the way as Leigh Anne confronts her housewife friends' prejudice head on.

Bullock runs with this role, creating a strong, deeply religious woman with a big personality and the ability to think outside the box. It's a refreshing mixture that we rarely see on screen, and Bullock gets it just right. Her interaction with the terrific Aaron is earthy and natural, and her scenes with McGraw depict a realistic marriage, with hilarious throwaway lines and moments of emotion. So if it all gets a bit sentimental, we can almost forgive the filmmakers their indulgence: the story itself earns the tears.

In the end, this is hopefully the kind of movie that will inspire viewers to break out of their closed-in worlds to discover how they can help others in sometimes very simple ways (not everyone has to adopt a gigantic orphan). And while the film hedges around the grittier realities of Mike's background, it does admit that the size of society's failure is pretty enormous.

cert 12 themes, language, brief violence 26.Nov.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall