The Blind Side – Cert 12A WITH a string of this year s biggest best actress gongs awarded to Sandra Bullock for the role in this movie, the UK release (finally!) of The Blind Side will have added to the audience pressure. Will she do enough to convince

The Blind Side - Cert 12A


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WITH a string of this year's biggest best actress gongs awarded to Sandra Bullock for the role in this movie, the UK release (finally!) of The Blind Side will have added to the audience pressure.

Will she do enough to convince the British public that she deserved the Oscar for this performance?

We all know her from, um, Speed and Miss Congeniality? Or maybe a role in the similarly successful Oscar drana Crash?

I've seen her, as many of you will have, in all of those and questioned her talent as an actress. It's not 'bad' but I've always wondered why she is so highly regarded (and paid) across Hollywood.

I recently saw her again coincidently in the romantic drama The Lakehouse, which featured the repairing of co-Speed star Keano Reeves.

This was probably the best performance I've seen her give, and is the reason I still just about have faith in the Oscar judges still.

Other than the best actress gongs, The Blind Side has been left on the wayside generally.

An unremarkably experienced writer, director and main cast (Bullock aside) mean that my main focus will be on the lead performance.

Sadly the trailer suggests it's about American football, something I know next to nothing about, so I hope that it's not too heavy on the sports side of things.

Thoughts after watching the movie

I'VE debated recently whether 'true stories' are a good thing for movies. Unless a person has had an unbelievably fascinating life then the pledge of sticking true to what really happened limits the cinematic scope and often leaves bland areas in the story structure.

There are a few gems that are contrary to this point, Goodfellas being the most critically respected example, but overall I'd much rather watch fantastical works of fiction that can take me places the real world simply cannot.

Recently we had the example of Invictus that I'm sure stuck true to what happened and it was kind of boring and bland because of it. A fascinating story, yes, but not one that works on screen too well.

And then there's The Blind Side that, thanks to its non-fictional roots, comes across as the most patronising piece of film I've seen for a long time.

It tells the story of Big Mike, a hard-up black gentlemen who has had a tough upbringing (that's largely unspecified) but thanks to his towering physique he gets into a respected American private school (as someone perfect for the national sport of American football, apparently private education in the States is dictated by academic ability and your potential to stop other large male students run forward with a ball).

Well thanks the Lord for the hero white family, who pick poor Big Mike up from the side of the road (after admitting he had no-where to sleep) and offer him their house, their warmth and (later on) a car, wardrobe and new middle-to-upper class life.

The two-dimensional family - that features a too-good-to-be-true millionaire husband, a dorky teenage daughter with no personality and a young son who I wanted to slap from the moment his first 'witty' one liner was uttered - are portrayed in a ridiculously smug way that any good they were doing for Big Mike (who actually prefers to be called Michael, but hey) just seemed annoying.

If Big Mike's trauma had been build up in a relatable, perhaps believable way, too then maybe his being saved by the family might be an emotional revelation - but sadly his character initially come across as a thicker version of Lennie Small from Of Mice & Men. And even after he is given a chance at life he's given little dialogue or facial emotional to evoke anything.

And then there's Sanda Bullocks character Leigh. She's the 'everywoman' of American, we're led to believe. The one who donates to school raffles, buys cookies from the girl guides and wakes up every morning with perfectly combed hair (with sun-glasses resting on top of course). The character has a Tennessee accent, and occasionally has moments where she spurs Big Mike on when failure seems inevitable (namely telling him to imagine the bloke he has to hold back in American football in the annoying little brat son, which if that'd be me I'd be more inclined to headbutt).

But overall I'm baffled by her win at the Oscars, especially when Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) and Carey Mulligan (An Education) portrayed characters that had at least some depth (whilst Bullock's Leigh has all the character development of a housewife from a toilet paper advert).

My biggest pet hate with the film though, and something that kept cropping up time and time again, was the horribly stereotyping throughout. From the early doubts of Bullocks character that the poor black man she kindly invited in her home "might steal something", every black person in the movie is literally a drug addict or criminal (that isn't an over-statement) and it required, what I translated as at least, the pity of the white teachers and family to save one of them from 'the ghetto'.

This horrible 'all white people live on the rich, lovely side of town and all black people live on the horrible drug-ridden side of town' was a lazy way to set-up the main characters plight, and although this is based on a true story I'm hedging a bet it was way more than what this film is letting on - another American dream embarrassment that rejuvenates that dire insecurity much of that country has and leaves everyone else (including much of the cinema crowd I was with) rolling their eyes.

So I'd predict that this will be a success on the other side of the Atlantic, critically and commercially probably, but sadly for us there's little we can relate to and enjoy. The stereotypes stick to the lowest common denominator (especially in a Britain where these portrayals aren't really true at all) and the weak script and 2D characters provide little to no impact.

There's a very brief stage in the latter half when it could have been saved, a peak that quickly got dragged down by the ideals this movie seemed to be clinging to, and then as the predictable conclusion led to the credits (you know what is going to happen from minute one by the way) I was left both disappointed (by a Bullock performance that was decidedly undeserved) and angry (by a film that has trivialised a story that had so many messages and morals left untold).

TIM LINCE

1/5 STARS