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The Blind Side

USA 2009
Directed by
John Lee Hancock
128 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3 stars

The Blind Side

Synopsis: Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) is the wife of mega-rich Sean (Tim McGraw). Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is a poverty-stricken black son of a drug-addicted mother from the projects. Michael gains acceptance to a fancy  school which the Tuohy’s daughter attends. One night walking homeless and cold on the street, he is picked up by the Tuohys and soon becomes a fixture in their household. But even more amazingly he moves into the world of school football, then major league football.

This feel-good film is based upon a true story, chronicled in the best-selling book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, the title referring to some sporting innovation to do with tackling and stuff I have zero interest in! However, despite my total lack of enthusiasm for American football I found this film moderately engaging, at times very manipulatively tear-jerking, and a refreshing showcase for Bullock after the many C-grade films she has turned up in. It is also a story about more than just the rise of a poor boy from the projects to sporting superstar – it is a look at families – what constitutes a family and how the relationship of a mother and son needn’t necessarily be a blood bond.

Because The Blind Side is about present day events there was plenty of opportunity for the cast and filmmakers to meet with the actual people. When we see the stills over the credits, we realise just how well these actors have all been cast physically in their roles. However the scripting of some of the roles leaves a bit to be desired. The Tuohy children, 15 year old Collins, a studious young cutie and 10 year old Sean Jnr are played by Lily Collins and Jae Head. The kids are just too good to be true, with Sean one of those 10-going-on-30 type bossy know-it-all American kids who make me squirm. The scenes with him are just too twee and saccharine. Aaron however is quite charismatic as the large, lumbering Michael, who initially scores really low on his academic subjects, but really high on his “protective instincts”. It is these instincts that Leigh Anne harnesses as she coaches him in his football role: “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.” The boy is initially very taciturn and overwhelmed, and it is quite moving to see him emerge from his shell under the guidance and love of the Tuohy family. Schmaltzy, but also moving in parts.

Bullock, as the feisty, unstoppable Leanne  who has more heart and generosity than most actually does deserve her Best Actress nomination.. It is truly heart-warming to see her take the role of mother to this boy whose roots are so diametrically opposed to her wealthy white background.

Ultimately, the fact that the story is true makes it quite inspiring. There are probably countless Michael Ohers with great potential, who never meet a Tuohy family to give them such an opportunity. It’s unfortunate however that the script never really explores the racial side of things, which is touched upon in Leigh Anne’s lunches with her toffee-nosed girlfriends, and which is (to my mind) very unrealistically portrayed as Leigh Anne enters the projects and picks a verbal fight with one of the ‘hood’s hoodlums, only to emerge unscathed!

However, forgiving as I always am, I did find it a film worth seeing and was delighted to see Bullock in a role deserving of her skills.





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