Cert 12A 117mins Stars 4
This delightfully entertaining and thoroughly British crowd pleasing coming-of-age comedy drama is soundtracked to the gloriously epic songs of US rock legend, Bruce Springsteen.
Based on the memoirs of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, which charts his time attending Luton Sixth Form College in 1987, fictionalised here as Javed, and played with infectious and endearing enthusiasm by Viveik Kalra.
And for those of us old enough to have been a small town older teen at the time, this is a moving and uplifting nostalgia trip.
His ambitions to be a writer brings him into conflict with his authoritarian, traditional minded and in his own way, heroic, father, a wonderfully proud and pained performance by Kulvinder Ghir.
And in order to marry the differing demands of his Pakistani heritage and British upbringing, Javed finds solace and inspiration in the tunes of Springsteen.
He’s cajoled by Hayley Atwell’s English teacher, finds sweet cross-cultural romance with Nell Williams’ political activist, and forms a winning friendship with Aaron Phagura’s Sikh student.
Springsteen probably didn’t have the UK’s M1 northbound lane to Manchester in mind when he wrote timeless rock classic, Born To Run, but it’s one of many of his great tracks which fuel the film and continue to thunder across boundaries of race, gender and geography.
These are topics Director Gurindar Chadha has tackled many times before in films in films such as Bend it Like Beckham, and she’s particularly good at awkward family dynamics, maintaining sympathy and understanding for each of Javed’s family, despite their divergent lives.
The Thatcher-era of racism, redundancy and rise of nationalism are confronted head on, which the filmmakers use to pass scathing comment on our similarly turbulent political times.
It’s this spiky approach which elevates this above the schmaltz of Richard Curtis’s recent Beatles cinematic love-in, Yesterday. And another huge bonus is there’s no Ed Sheeran.