Friday, May 21, 2010

Must Watch Friday - 'The Blind Side'

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.


  1. Annie, I must admit I've been avoiding this film because it sounded a bit too cheesy. But you make it sound absolutely wonderful - really heartfelt and with a great message. Must put it on my DVD list! Thanks for the great rundown. Oh, and congratulations on your latest sheikh book. It's a doozy - and that Tahir is TSSSSSS hot!

  2. Hi Anna. Well, my great advantage in seeing this was that I knew virtually nothing about it. Maybe if you'd been tuned into all they hype about it your experience would be different. I didn't have huge expectations and was pleasantly suprised. I view it as a little movie, if you know what I mean, one on an intimate level about people and families.

    Hey, thanks for the wrap on my current release! I think Tahir his hot too, but then I worry that I may be biased. Clearly not! (G).

  3. Hi Annie
    Good wrap up for this film! I'm like Anna, I was kinda avoiding it - but it sounds warm and quirky and that it's based on a true story makes it that extra bit special. So it's on my must-see list now too. Will have get the DVD!

    I know what you mean about going to a film without any expectations. If you go thinking "this is going to be awesome, awesome, awesome", then it can often be disappointing. And the opposite is true too. Many years ago, we went to see a movie when my sister suggested it - she wouldn't tell us anything about it, just that she'd be interested to hear what we thought. There hadn't been a huge hoopla about it that I can remember so we toddled along out of curiosity one evening. It was the first Indiana Jones movie! I LOVED it! Still do!

    Anyway, thanks for tip-off for The Blind Side. I promise to watch without huge expectations and I know I'm bound to be pleased.

  4. Hi Annie, I too hadn't put The Blind Side on my "must see" movie list, but everyone I know who has seen it has loved it so it's on the DVD list now.
    I saw Letters to Juliet the other night which is an out and out romance--Yay! The opening credits signal "romance" loud and clear with a montage of couples kissing, from classic art to real people.
    The movie is set in Tuscany with two romances, an older couple and a younger couple. With beautiful, skilled actors like Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave and the glorious setting, how could it fail to entertain?
    I think the script could have done with some help from romance writers, though as it was a touch wooden. However with such lovely characters and real emotion it certainly appealed to this romance reader!
    I so wish more romance made it to the screens!
    Good luck with the launch of SCANDAL: HIS MAJESTY'S LOVE CHILD. Your sheik stories are always wonderful--can't wait to read this one!

  5. Annie, I haven't even heard of this movie, let alone watched it (or avoided watching it) -- have obviously been living in the cave for too long. It sounds like a gem. Quirky and feel good are right up my alley.

    I haven't been to the movies in ages. Mamma Mia was the last thing I saw on the big screen. I can feel a trip to the video store (am really wanting to see Julie and Julia) AND the movies coming up in my future. With Popcorn... and a choc-top... ooh, Annie, thanks!

  6. HI Annie - good post :) I saw Blind Side at the movies and really enjoyed it (a treat as I so rarely get a chance to go to the pictures).

    Like you, I enjoyed the movie but found the credits absolutely wonderful. I had no idea the movie was based on fact and the pics of the "real" Tuohys was truly heart warming.

    BTW - Can't wait to read "Scandal" :)

  7. Annie --
    I half watched this film on the way home from Egypt and want to see it properly. My children really enjoyed it and the people who were watching on the plane really seemed to be enjoying themselves.
    I believe it is a feel good film.

  8. Watched it. Loved it. Get the DVD folks, shut the curtains and turn off the phone. Absolutely worth it.

  9. Hi Sharon,

    Ooh, I remember seeing the first Indiana Jones film too. We were living in Germany and I knew nothing about it and we went to the movies in Vienna is these huge plush red velvet chairs and I spent the whole time sitting on the edge of my seat! I love it when a movie surprises you.

  10. Hi Kandy,

    Sounds like another film to watch out for. I find Vanessa R compelling to watch and if it's set in Tuscany that's two big pluses. I wonder sometimes if screen romances are sometimes a little wooden because people get a bit self conscious about romance if it's not their usual genre? Or I could be totally wrong...

    Thanks for the good wishes for SCANDAL: HIS MAJESTY'S LOVE CHILD. I know you've enjoyed my sheikh stories and I was just thinking the other day that this is probably one for you.

  11. Ah, Michelle, snap! I scored a choc top ice cream when I went to see this too. See, I remember because I don't get to the movies that often either. But on a wintry wet day like today there's definitely something to be said for snuggling down with a dvd, or a romantic hero!

  12. Hi, Annie! I too had been avoiding this film, but you've made it sound like a truly inspiring story. And how lovely that Sandra Bullock adopted a boy too. Now, that's one lucky kid!

    Looking forward to adding SCANDAL: HIS MAJESTY'S LOVE-CHILD to my bookshelf, Annie!

  13. Hi Joanne,

    It's great to hear you felt the same way about this film. Actually I hesitated to mention the true story aspect as, like you, I had no idea till the credits and that made a big impression. But I know there's been a lot of talk about the movie and I thought it would be reasonably common knowledge.

    Hope you enjoy SCANDAL when you get to it. I really did have a ball writing Tahir, as my writing friends will attest.

  14. Hi Michelle,

    If you get the time, do watch it in full. Feel good is exactly how I'd describe it. Not an earth shaker or a blockbuster or something amazingly new, but a story to enjoy.

  15. Hey, Susan! How lovely to hear you enjoyed 'The Blindside' so much. It is worth uninterrupted viewing, isn't it?

  16. Hi Vanessa, I hope you have fun with both SCANDAL and this film!

    I do think there's something to be said for stumbling on a film without knowing too much about it. There's a real joy in discovering something satisfying when you weren't necessarily expecting it. Reviews can help you decide whether to watch something but so often I find they give away the bits I'd rather discover for myself.

  17. Hey Annie, me again.Talk about stumbling onto something good: I went along to a movie last week with some friends and had no idea what we were going to see. When they told me it was in Russian and French with subtitles I have to confess my heart sank a little. Oh well, I thought, a little sleep in the dark won't hurt...
    THE CONCERT was the best movie I've seen in ages. Funny, thrilling, intelligent and truly moving. If you get a chance to see it, don't hesitate!

  18. Kandy, how tremendous! I'll have to look out for 'The Concert'. It sounds intriguing. Not sure if we'll get it locally. They only seem to play the big titles. Will have to search it out. Thanks for the tip!

  19. Lately, I've been seeing films without knowing what they're about. Sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised, but there have been a few shockers!

  20. Vanessa, it took me a moment to realise what you meant. I thought you still didn't know what they're about after you'd seen them! Sorry to hear about the shockers but glad to hear there've been some good ones in there too.

  21. Whoops! I ought to proofread my comments more closely. Yes, I meant I don't do any research into the film before I see it. Quite liberating!

  22. I loved The Blind Side! Sandra Bullock was wonderful! I highly recommend it.

  23. Vanessa, it is liberating, isn't it? I've had some terrific finds that way.

  24. Hi Wendy, wasn't SB terrific? Glad to hear you enjoyed this one too.