Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Blind Side (2009)

THE BLIND SIDE
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: JOHN LEE HANCOCK
BOOK BY: MICHAEL LEWIS
OVERALL SCORE: 6.75/10

After years of living on and off the streets, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is admitted into a private school with the hopes of playing football for the team. With only a .6 grade point average, and severe alienation from his classmates (most of whom are white, he struggles to belong. One day Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), wife of a fast food chain owner, takes in Michael from the rain, and the two begin the slow process towards becoming a family.

I have to admit, going into this film I had about as much prejudice against it as any. I was annoyed by the marketing effort's attempts to keep the film as "white" looking as possible, but alas thankfully that fear was proven wrong. Hancock, whose directorial efforts are as Disney as they come, has crafted an enjoyable, if not unfortunately forgettable, narrative on the life of Michael Oher, current rookie in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens. Hancock has a great knack for going deep, but not dark, and in that he's managed to attract an audience. Hancock is not afraid to address the painful past of Michael Oher, but he does like to skirt around it as much as possible, and yet I found something wonderfully pleasant about the style with which the film came to life.

Part Remember the Titans, part The Rookie, The Blind Side is a well rounded film, willing to address both ends of the prejudice isle (especially white prejudice). It delves into the false belief that upper class means better class, and Tuohy is a sound representation of what it means to be a good person. Sandra Bullock is in a sense asked to bridge the gap between Michael and the rest of the white community. In that respect I can see why there has been oscar talk, but I don't think it's substantiated. Her performance is solid, but nothing necessarily special, nor does her over exaggerated southern accent inspire much in the way of votes. Granted the real heart of the film is Quinton Aaron, asked to play Michael Oher (a character I can only assume was daunting to cast for). I'll admit it took me a long time to warm up to Aaron's style of acting. It's very quiet, very unassuming, and yet he pulls off the character quite well, by the end of the film having won over the entire audience.

As for the rest of the cast, few step out of the bounds of stereotypical, and even then their importance to the film is limited. Hancock is the real worker behind the scenes. Managing to keep the film audience friendly and retain the narrative strength, it really allows the viewer to be absorbed into the story, instead of forcing them into a series of painful negative. Much like its main character, the movie concentrates on the good, often showing the kind nature of Oher, and his desire to succeed despite his obvious struggles. Of course I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the first 30 minutes does spend a heavy amount of time on the notion of being a "good Christian," which I admit got old very quickly. Luckily though The Blind Side was able to move past this, and find the importance in its message, and not the religious faith of its characters, really bringing about an entertaining last hour.

The Blind Side is an enjoyable, albeit clearly flawed, film that succeeds given the strength of its story and lead characters.

1 better thoughts:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Eh. I don't know if I'm going to watch this, but it at least looks enjoyable. ish.

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