The moment Sandra Bullock’s name was read out by Sean Penn
at the Academy Awards, the PR team behind The Blind Side knew they
could go on holiday because their job was done. The need to see whether
Bullock deserved her Oscar will send many to the cinema alone even if
this classic triumph over adversity tale of an American dream made
reality isn’t entirely tempting. So, did she deserve her Oscar? That’s
debatable, but she definitely carries the film.
The Blind Side is based on the 2006 book by Michael Lewis, The
Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and follows the story of Michael Oher.
The 17 year old (played by Quinton Aaron) is on his own and
barely surviving. Abandoned by his father and with a well meaning mother
addicted to drugs, he has gone through several foster homes, and has
run away from each one. His friend’s father opens his home to him and on
the promise of him turning into a promising football star, lands him a
place in an exclusive Christian School. He continues at the school even
after finding himself on the street again and is befriended by a young
boy named S.J. (Jae Head). Wandering the freezing street in
shorts and a t-shirt he catches the eye of S.J’s mother Leigh Anne Tuohy
(Bullock), who promptly takes him in and gives him a sofa to sleep on.
That one night becomes permanent and soon the Tuohy family changes his
life as much as he changes theirs
Much has been said about The Blind Side. Some are annoyed that it
doesn’t show any black people in a positive light (all black characters
are either drug dealers or drug users) and that it’s a typical story of a rich white family giving into their guilt by helping a poor black boy.
Each of these statements may have a decent argument behind them but
helpfully The Blind Side is strengthened by the fact that it is a true
story. Its idealistic characters and near unbelievable premise would be
critically hammered were it a work of fiction, but luckily the true
story element can easily erode them. Not entirely mind but it was clever
of the writers and director to add in slight moments that show the
Tuohy family aren’t as optimistic as they seem, whether it be Leigh Anne
worrying that he may steal something or Sean Tuohy (McCraw) being slightly annoyed when Leigh Anne invites Michael to be in their Christmas card picture.
Relative newcomer Quinton Aaron lucked into this role – he stands at
6ft 8” -and does quite a good job of it. He shows promise as an actor
with subtle nuances with his face and body as the character remains
silent for the majority of the film. But of course, this is all about
Bullock. It remains a mystery whether she truly deserved her accolade but this really is her show.
Someone so used to playing easy roles in romantic comedies, she clearly
relishes the tough as nails southern belle role that she has been given
and completely goes to town. She carries it well and is unsurprisingly
funny showing that her years spent in rom-com land has been as
successful for her acting chops as it has been for her bank balance.
The Blind Side is everything most expect it to be – a classic story
of an American dream where someone who was never given a chance rises
through adversity to make something of themself. It is emotional, and
soppy and sweet, but it also isn’t half bad.