By Sandra Kraisirideja
Americans live in a cynical society where generosity is eyed with suspicion and a good Samaritan may have to worry about legal retribution for an act of selflessness. It’s hard for Americans to believe that it’s possible to get something for nothing or that people still do the right thing even if they may not get anything in return. We’re always looking at what’s in it for the other person.
This skepticism is addressed towards the end of “The Blind Side,” a heartwarming story based on the amazing circumstances that helped change the life of a teenage boy living in the projects in Memphis, TN. Michael Oher went from living foster care to becoming a first year freshman All American for the University of Missouri and then a first round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens.
By the time the NCAA gets a hold of Oher, the audience has learned so much about him and the seemingly selfless support that he’s gotten from the people in his life that accusations of wrongdoing seem cold-hearted and politically motivated.
Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw star as Leigh Ann and Sean Tuohy, a wealthy Memphis couple who extended a helping hand to Oher, who was a classmate of their kids at Briarcrest Christian School. The Tuohy’s would eventually become Oher’s legal guardians, prompting the NCAA to question the couple’s motives, implying that they chose to help Oher so he would play for their alma mater, the University of Missouri.
Written and directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Rookie”), the movie maintains a nice balance between sentimentality and light humor while never getting too preachy or overly emotional. Quinton Aaron, who was in an episode of “Law and Order” and had a part in “Be Kind Rewind” plays Oher with an imposing physicality that belies his timid, quiet nature.
Nothing in Oher’s personal history–a father murdered, a mother addicted to crack cocaine, and years in foster care–indicated his life would turn out the way it has. “The Blind Side” shows how Oher’s gentle nature, ability to forgive, and lack of anger helped bring about his life-changing journey. Not too mention the combined efforts of teachers, school administrators, the Tuohy family and a personal tutor.
Hancock exercises steady control as a director, using the right level of emotion and visual style to move the story along. Bullock does a great job portraying a god-fearing, gun-toting Southern woman who is used to getting her way and doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. McGraw’s role doesn’t present too great of a challenge for the country singer, but he adds a nice balance to Bullock’s strong presence. His low key approach is a nice counterpoint to Bullock’s character’s intensity.
It’s good to know that there are people out there who are willing to help somebody realize their full potential without any desire for personal gain. Hancock took the right approach in showing that Oher’s story had a happy ending because of the shared commitment and responsibility of the people in his life.