I adore this film.
The Blind Side tells the true story of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen who has fallen through the cracks. Michael applies to a private school and is accepted through the successful campaigning by the school’s football coach. Michael's large build and quick feet make him a natural for the position of left tackle on the school's football team. Michael attends the school but remains homeless, friendless and still suffering from his miserable childhood in the projects.
One evening, Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw) see the teen walking in the rain. Leigh Anne, a very commanding woman, makes the choice to not only invite the stranger into their car, but also into their home.
Michael finds safety and love in the Tuohy’s home. Through their efforts and sacrifice, Michael discovers his athletic gifts and develops his scholarly abilities as well. Michael graduates from school and is swarmed by colleges hoping to get him on their teams.
The plot of the film may make this sound like yet another black kid(s) + sports = redemption movie (Remember the Titans, Glory Road, The Express, Pride, Coach Carter and on and on). This film above comparison to these films. The performances, the acting and the careful direction are all exceptional and the film looks beyond the racism elements. The story itself is so invigorating and inspiring that it transcends its genre.
The story offers a clear example of living the Christian life. The Tuohy’s are Christians who understand the faith isn’t just going to church and memorizing passages. The heart of the Christian faith resides in relationships. The faith lives in our relationship with Christ and allowing His love to reflect in our relationship with each other.
Much of the reaction to the film is focused on Sandra Bullock's infectious performance as Leigh Anne. Bullock, looking like a Kathy Lee Gifford clone, offers what is easily her best performance. Leigh Anne is a sassy, direct woman who obviously knows how to get whatever she wants. Bullock manages to keep the strong willed aspect of the woman at the forefront but allowing her maternal caring to peek through when needed. The duality of her strong will and her soft heart makes for a wonderful character to witness on screen.
In contrast to Bullock's assertive performance is Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher. Oher is notoriously introverted. Playing someone who avoids interaction is a challenging task. Aaron is able to present Oher's almost debilitating shyness while also making him endearing. It would have been easy to wind up having Oher be little more that a oafish prop living in Leigh Anne's shadow. Aaron's nuanced performance is the emotional anchor for the film and provides the context for the entire piece. His delicate performance deserves the credit for the film's success. If he wasn't so engaging on screen his Oher's transformation wouldn't have been as fascinating.
The old line “Dying is easy, comedy is hard” can be changed. "Dying is easy, inspiring others is hard." The attempt to inspire an audience is one of the biggest risks an artist can make. Inspiration reminds us of the good deep in our hearts and encourages us to open our better natures to the world. Inspiration promotes the higher ideals such as the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
When a filmmaker attempts to inspire they risk the sarcasm of misanthropes. As we have seen with the release of this film, the attacks come easily from those who think upbeat equates simplicity of thought. If you come across critics bashing this film for being racist or manipulative you can assume the critic is filtering their own personal issues through their writing. This is simply a great movie. It is honestly inspiring and challenges the audience to not only improve their lives but to improve the lives of those around them. The production promotes all that is good in us. In an age of torture-porn and filth-laden Hollywood blockbusters this film is an absolute must see (as soon as you can).
Final Note: If you enjoyed this film, I strongly suggest you search out a documentary titled The Heart of Texas. Like this film it is inspiring and presents one of the most incredible stories of forgiveness and love I have ever seen.
Facing the Giants (2006)
Other Critic's Reviews:
The Phantom Tollbooth