Our columnist Annie West revisits the recent US film 'The Blind Side'.
My dad has discovered Sandra Bullock and he's trying to catch up on her films. So recently he, mum and I went to a matinee screening of 'The Blind Side'. On the way home that afternoon I heard Sandra Bullock had won an Oscar for her performance in that film and I wasn't surprised. I bet it was a popular choice.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this movie, especially when its opening scene was a replay of part of an American football match (a sport which has always baffled me). I'm glad I went with few expectations as it made the experience even more delightful. This is a feel good movie with heart. I enjoyed it so much I've now seen it twice and I wasn't bored the second time round. And for anyone else as flummoxed as I am by the way football is played in the US, don't worry, despite what the poster implies, this isn't a sport film (though there's some football in it). This is a story about family and making a difference and above all about love. Is it any wonder I enjoyed it?
The story is about Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), who at the beginning of the film is a high school boy who sleeps on a friend's sofa as his drug-addicted mother can't provide a home for him. The father of his friend takes action to get both boys into a local christian school. Michael's grades are almost non-existent and there's doubt whether he can make it through the course, but reluctantly he's accepted. The school coach, who recognises his latent sporting talent, champions him, but before he can play sport he must improve his grades. Michael doesn't seem to fit with his peers. He's not outgoing, not achieving academically, not white and living from hand to mouth.
Enter SJ (Jae Head), a gregarious boy about half Michael's size, and his parents Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy (Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw). Realising Michael has no place to sleep, Leigh Anne offers him a bed for the night, then invites him to stay for their Thanksgiving meal. Eventually the nights spent on their sofa lead to an offer to move in and a room of his own. Michael becomes part of the family in every way.
I thoroughly enjoyed Quinton Aaron's performance as the unassuming Michael. Despite his traumatic past he has an innately caring and gentle personality and this shines through in the movie. His new family are at first glance so different: materially wealthy, educated, confident and successful. Yet instead of a clash of values and personalities, the story reveals the slow establishment of relationships built on trust and respect. Sandra Bullock as the no nonsense Leigh Anne who shows her love through action rather than words is excellent. Kathy Bates, as Miss Sue, the tutor who helps Michael achieve the grades he needs, is a treat too.
In some ways this movie is predictable: the poor hero facing insurmountable odds. The battle to do well in a new environment. The tension over whether he'll succeed. But that didn't detract from the story. It was a tale that affirmed all the things we'd like to believe about the charity, warmth and generosity of those around us. It had people who were fascinating and quirky and likeable. It was satisfying and funny in a gentle, laid back way. One of my fave lines was Sean saying to his wife after Michael's tutor confessed her political views: " Who would have thought we'd have a black son before we met a democrat?".
If you're after a film everyone in the family can enjoy, or a film that will leave you smiling, this is it. One of the nicest moments for me was during the credits at the end, when we were shown photos of Michael and the Tuohys. That's when I realised the film is based on a true story. That made it even better.
Annie has lots to smile about this month as it's almost time for her latest title SCANDAL: HIS MAJESTY'S LOVE-CHILD to be released. If you like sheikh stories, keep an eye out for this one - the fourth and final story in the DARK HEARTED DESERT MEN series. The book is a June release in the UK and a July release in North America, Australia and New Zealand. You can read about it on Annie's website or buy it from Amazon or Amazon UK. There's also a copy to be won (with other prizes in Annie's new contest) on her website.