By Heather Fiore
The Blind Side is a dramatic sports film that depicts the discovery of Michael Oher, the inspirational new addition to the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive line.
Just beneath the surface, however, is where writer and director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie) delves into Oher’s erratic life, and peels back several crucial layers of his upbringing.
After 17 years of bouncing from one school and home to the next, Michael (Quinton Aaron, Be Kind Rewind), a neglected and impoverished individual, sets foot in Wingate Christian School in Memphis, Tenn. At Wingate, Michael is quickly befriended by the much younger and carefree Sean “SJ” Jr. (Jae Head, Hancock).
One cold night when Michael is traveling to his next unknown destination, SJ and his family spot him. SJ’s mother, Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock, The Proposal) feels sympathetic and offers Michael a place to stay for the night. But Michael’s one-night stay eventually becomes permanent. He easily crafts bonds with SJ and his sister, Collins (Lily Collins, 90210), as well as Leigh Anne and Sean, her husband (Tim McGraw, Four Christmases).
To Leigh Anne’s surprise, her open-mindedness gives Michael a chance he’s never been given before. Because of his lack of knowledge, Leigh Anne hires a private tutor, Miss Sue (Kathy Bates, Valentine’s Day). Sue guides Michael and is able to provide him with books and the proper help, while her passion supplies him with the drive he needs to improve his grades.
Throughout the movie, Leigh Anne steadily unveils the layers of Michael’s life and pushes him to excel in everything, including football. A bond develops between Michael and Leigh Anne, and Bullock and Aaron play well off of each other as mother and son.
For his first lead role, Aaron does a good job at both physically resembling Michael Oher and emotionally displaying his unfortunate situation. He effectively portrays the shattered, unsure personality of someone like Michael.
Aaron benefits from being alongside an actress like Bullock, who encouraged him to not be intimidated. Bullock’s performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy easily surpasses a number of her previous movies, as evidenced by her March 7 Academy Award win for Best Actress in a Leading Role. An actess of many genres, Bullock’s versatility is apparent.
Bullock’s interpretation of a Southern interior designer and mother is impeccable. She adopts a Southern accent with ease. Aside from replicating a Southern Belle, she also plays the role of a loving, caring and big-hearted mother so well that at points in the movie, one may forgot that she’s acting.
Head portrays the perfect sidekick to Michael throughout his stay at Wingate. His carefree yet determined character compliments Aaron’s shy, complex persona. Head’s youthful demeanor and humor adds dimension to the movie’s plot. In a football-focused movie, Head’s comic relief relates it back to real life. SJ serves as Michael’s right-hand man, the down-to-earth personality who is able to keep him grounded and comfortable.
McGraw, who was born and raised in the South, naturally embraces his character as Sean Tuohy and works well alongside Bullock.
Although The Blind Side is essentially based on the football tactics book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, the movie ventures far past the NFL realm.
It’s able to travel through and emotionally capture the lifelong conflicts and ultimate benefits of Oher’s experiences, while giving the audience a touching family story to follow.
The Blind Side will play tonight and Saturday in the BLC Theater at 7:30 p.m.