Tuesday, March 23, 2010

THE BLIND SIDE - insidious, manipulative schmaltz

THE BLIND SIDE is a deeply insidious movie that has been rewarded with Oscar gold, one suspects, as a gesture toward Sandra Bullock's track record in bringing home the cheques with her trademark fluffy romantic-comedies. It is based on the true story of Leigh Anne Tuohy, an All-American soccer mom who gives a home to an enormous black kid from a deprived neighbourhood, seemingly on a whim. Once she has committed to raising him, Leigh Anne does so with ferocious commitment, eventually seeing him into a successful American football career. There is no dramatic tension. Neither is there suspense. It is quite clear that from the polished veneer that we are in the kind of territory where good triumphs over evil and where racial politics are reduced to offensive bland statements. Note how Quinton Aaron, as Michael Oher, is essentially objectified - a passive object with a skill, merely there to respond to Bullock/Touhy's sympathy and actions. I find the Academy lauding this film, and Sandra Bullock's role in particular, rather fascinating. On the one hand, the racial politics of this film affirm the Liberal credentials of the Academy, and you can see them just desperate to acknowledge this film in the same way that they acknowledged CRASH. On the other hand, Leigh Anne Touhy is a character straight out of a liberal humanist's worst nightmares. And I quote, "If you so much as set foot downtown you will be sorry. I'm in a prayer group with the D.A., I'm a member of the NRA and I'm always packing." And so, ladies and gentlemen, we have the current aspirations of both left and right wing America wrapped in a one lady - racially aware but also gun-totin' and bible-quotin'. It does rather feel like Hollywood is trying to have its cake and eat it.

THE BLIND SIDE was released last year in the US and Canada. It was released earlier this year in Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Uruguay. It is currently on release in Argentina, Kuwait, Brazil and Mexico. It opens this weekend in Germany, Portugal, Austria and the UK. It opens on April 19th in Finland and on May 6th in Denmark. It is released on Region 1 DVD today.

Additional tags: Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Jae Head, Lily Collines, Ray McKinnon, Kim Dickens, Alar Kivilo

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