The Blind Side
Review by Jack Foley
SANDRA Bullock won the best actress Oscar for her central role in this supposedly heartwarming true story, yet The Blind Side is far from an awards calibre movie.
Rather, it’s a Hollywood-ised account of the relationship between an affluent and influential white mother and the impoverished, larger than life black teenager she decides to adopt.
Bullock plays Leigh-Anne, a devoted wife, mother and pillar of the community, who takes it upon herself to look after Quinton Aaron’s Michael after she begins to notice his lonely, disconsolate figure wanderimg around her son’s school and the local town.
Their subsequent relationship empowers Leigh-Anne and provides Michael with an unlikely shot at a lucrative [American] football scholarship, thereby providing him with the kind of life he could only previously have dreamed of.
It’s quite a story… but director John Hancock somehow conspires to make it feel false in spite of its basis in reality, which in turn marks its own achievement.
Rather, by focusing the film on Bullock’s Erin Brokovich-style mother and making her a feisty tower of strength who is able to give as good as she gets to whoever dares cross her, it feels like an obvious awards ploy.
Bullock, needless to say, rises to the challenge and gives a credible account of herself in a dramatic leading role. But she’s nowhere near Oscar calibre, lacking any real dramatic arc that feels like she’s being stretched. She was far better – and showed more range – in Crash.
With The Blind Side, her ‘big’ moments coincide with the film’s trailer bait trappings, such as when she sees fit to confront a gang member in his own neighbourhood and is allowed to walk away unscathed – a scene that even the most ardent Hollywood romantic would argue is far removed from reality.
Her take-over of a football training session to provide the skills required for Michael to success also feels like a crowd-pleasing moment that’s more annoying than real, while even her quiet moments tend to disappear off-camera.
Aaron, meanwhile, is somewhat shamefully left to exist in her shadow, when – in reality – his rags to riches tale should have attracted the bulk of the film’s focus.
Strange, too, is the lack of any really trying times for any of the principal characters, with potentially intriguing scenarios – such as the dismay hinted at by Leigh-Anne’s friends – dismissed in one scene, and even her husband and son amazingly sympathetic towards having a newcomer become a major part of their lives (and the character’s focus).
Indeed, if this were a Disney tale, you might accuse of it being overly sweet and saccharine.
Hancock only really gets things right when offering us glimpses into Michael’s background and upbringing in the ghettos – but such moments are all too fleeting, thereby depriving the film of any real grit.
The overall feeling, therefore, is that The Blind Side has rather missed its own reason for being, opting instead for big Hollywood trappings and awards flirting rather than anything really meaningful or lasting. In a year when Precious also emerged as a genuine contender [and winner], The Blind Side‘s failing feels all the more pronounced.
Running time: 128mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: August 9, 2010