I just want to make a comment or two or three about this movie.
The Blind Side is a 2006 book that features a few NFL athletes with unexpected backgrounds and their unusual stories. The main thrust of the book is “a statistical X-ray of the hidden substructure of football, outlining the invisible doings of unsung players that determine the outcome more than the showy exploits of point scorers.” The story of one of these players, offensive tackle Michael Oher, was made into this screenplay. The stellar performance by Sandra Bullock in her true-to-life role as Oher’s guardian Leigh Anne Tuohy netted her a very well deserved Golden Globe award. This movie has been out for a little while and I’m a big football fan, so it’s been on my list for a while as well. Just caught up with it tonight and all I can say is….Wow.
It follows the real-life storyline pretty closely, as it must, being based on contemporary biography. Oher plays for the Baltimore Ravens, and his life story as portrayed in this movie (and the book that preceded it) is no secret. But – did I say, WOW? Please let me repeat that.
What do I expect from drama? Not merely to be entertained or gratuitously to have my heart strings jerked, but to have real questions asked and thoughts provoked. It is doubly compelling when it comes wrapped up in a package that includes something I’m a fan of (football, in this case), or interested in, generally (like, all the social and sociological bits about life and attitudes in the South (where, it happens,I am doing my writing retreat), the black/African American life experience, the clash between that and privileged white folks, and oh, a hundred other tidbits of similar ilk.
This movie touches all those bases and much more. It is more “touchy feely” personal exploration, in a way, than it is “sports movie” (I’d call that a 70/30 split), but I would hope that there is enough here to keep action enthusiasts engaged while they also must become involved with the more personal level of questions the movie treats of.
I don’t have time for an in-depth analysis of this tonight, so I will leave you with just two impressions that moved me.
One is, the Leigh Anne (real person)/Sandra Bulluck (actress) character portrayal really touched me. On one level it seems temptingly easy to dismiss her as incredibly superficial and blindly privileged, but her real-life actions show that that would be a shallow and hasty judgement. It makes you question not only what the character is actually doing, but how we regard such behavior both in media like this movie, and in real-life which is in fact where the real Tuohy did her ordinary-yet-extraordinary acts of compassion and support. It effectively blurs the line between reality and fiction, but also portrays a moving reality that makes me, at least, say, “Why aren’t more of us like that?”
The other thing this brings up for me is distinctly personal. I am doing my lurkish writing retreat in a Red State right now where the parochial attitudes touched upon in the movie (“Do you know there’s a colored person in your family Christmas photo?”) are entirely alive and repulsively vibrant to me. Kathy Bates does a wonderful vignette here, and gives a potentially job-losing confession which had me on the floor yet crying angry tears at the same time: “I have to tell you something….I’m a Democrat.” The payoff – the husband’s remark, “Who’da thought we’d have a black son before we knew our first Democrat?” is screamingly hilarious, and also -if you live here – hair-pullingly viciously true. OMG. Which is worse? The public stigma of a black child, or knowing a Democrat?
Please let me escape back to San Francisco so I don’t have to answer cognitive dissonance like that.
In the meanwhile, I live (temporarily) in the South, recognize the Stink Eye about “Liberal” orientations, can call myself a Democrat (sorta – am rather something else liberalistic, really, but that’s another discussion. For now, “Dem” is a ballpark analogy for this particular discussion) AND….I have a black daughter. Well, mostly daughter. Not by birth, but I was her guardian parent for a time. So, you can see perhaps the analogies in this movie that feel incredibly close to home to me.
I get it. I identify with it, and this movie left me laughing and crying and loving/hating all too many characters, and swooning over Sandra B (who, alas for me, bears a very strong resemblance to the Love of My Life) and *wishing* I knew someone with Clue in the measure that that character demonstrates. At least, here/now in my immediate personal life.
Big stuff, much food for thought, and bizarre but effective combo of football plus Real Life. And I wanna date Sandra Bullock (yeah, I know, take a number…)
Wild stuff. If you like football and/or relationship stuff, check it out. The kicker is, “true story.”
Multiple thumbs and various digits up on this one.