Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Blind Side
‘Wholesome’ is probably the best term to describe The Blind Side. ‘Woefully paternalistic’ is another, but we’ll get to that later. John Lee Hancock’s (The Rookie) film plays out like a feature length episode of 7th Heaven: all squeaky clean, Christian and chock full of life lessons. Were this not a true story, many would be hunting around for the ghost of Aaron Spelling, but instead we can sit back (preferably with milk and cookies) and learn about an underprivileged African American teen, Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) being taken in by the wealthy white Tuohy family and helped to academic and football greatness by the Southern force of nature that is Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock).
Adapting Michael Lewis’ novel The Blind Side: The Evolution of a Game Hancock titrates his treacley family drama with doses of training montages and game night furor. Australian audiences may well be unfamiliar with the bizarre, body-armored world of American football, but thanks to Leigh Anne, there’s no missing the metaphor, “This team is your family and you have to protect them…Tony is your quarterback. You protect his blind side. When you look at him think of me. How you have my back.”
It goes without saying that this film won’t be for everyone. Indeed it often feels like a Republican curative for Precious, particularly when in an unnecessary closing voice over Leigh Anne intones the fate of athletic young black boys who are being lost to gang violence in a place literally called Hurt Village. Such blatant paternalism is underscored by the characterisation of Oher as a near mute man child (who is at one point captivated by a Norman Rockwell picture), as well as constant references to Christian charity set off by shots of Leigh Anne’s glittering diamond crucifix.
But then again the life altering truth behind this story makes The Blind Side more than just a white-bred trip to Memphis. Bullock carries the film with a strong, compassionate performance, drawing out a mostly hangdog Aaron, while country music star Tim McGraw is largely silent as Sean Tuohy, perhaps reliving his home life as Mr. Faith Hill. Kathy Bates lends her singular charm to the third act as Oher’s private tutor, Miss Sue, with Jae Head and Lilly Collins rounding out the family as Oher’s infuriatingly precocious brother and sweetly smiling sister.
For all the midday movie sentimentalism, The Blind Side does manage to generate some genuinely funny and heartwarming moments. However there’s no turning a blind eye to fact that Oher’s story has been co-opted into a film about Leigh Anne (not to mention Bullock’s Oscar campaign), the irony of which is about as glaringly obvious as her values, “I have prayer group with the DA. I’m a member of the NRA, and I’m always packing.”
Published on TheVine
Australian release date: 25 February 2010