To appreciate Blinded by the Light is to embrace how deeply uncool music fandom can be.

Let me first tell you about Blinded by the Light, because this story is, ultimately, even with some digressions, theoretically, a movie review of Blinded by the Light.

Blinded by the Light tells the story of Javed (Viveik Kalra), a British teen of Pakistani descent growing up in late ’80s England. It’s based on journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park, centered around the seminal moment in his life when a friend introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen, then, becomes everything to Javed as he navigates the somewhat standard beats of a coming-of-age tale (parental expectations, young love, the looming future) as well as the less commonly seen realities of racism and fascism in his town. It’s directed by Gurinder Chadha, best known for Bend It Like Beckham, who like Manzoor, is a massive Springsteen fan.

Really, it’s not much more complicated than that. The plot won’t surprise you, but the performances are effectively earnest. Blinded by the Light shines, unsurprisingly, with its soundtrack, for which Chadha received free rein from Springsteen, and more meaningfully in how Chadha uses the performances and soundtrack to speak to the core truths of music fandom.

I first saw Blinded by the Light at Sundance in January. It is overwhelmingly sincere and quite cheesy. I wanted to scoff, to be above it and critical —  and yet I could not stop smiling. There are flaws: The lyric overlay and voiceovers are unnecessary, the actual narrative is a bit bland and frankly I don’t know what to tell you about the aggressively overwrought coming-of-age cliches e.g. that auditorium speech. But somehow that doesn’t matter. The film’s effectiveness at conveying the power of music is immense. To an embarrassing, arguably detrimental, degree, Blinded by the Light taps into the visceral feeling of falling in love with music for the first time, and, honestly, nothing about that experience or this movie is chill.

Blinded by the Light leans all the way into how deeply corny, how deeply personal it is when a musician articulates what you’re feeling. Which sounds simple, but when you, for any thousands of reasons, real and imagined, feel like no one understands you, and you hear a song, you hear a verse or a refrain or a single line that encapsulates, to you, in that moment, everything the world doesn’t understand, it’s powerful. Especially if you’re 16.

And while it’s easy to think of this as a teen phenomenon, and perhaps our most lasting music impressions are from our teenage years — it’s been scientifically suggested our music tastes solidify at 13 — but it’s all about timing. When you hear the right music at the right time, it’s alchemic. We tend not to talk about it as cool and critical adults, but we should because that emotion is exactly why so many fans love music. Blinded by the Light doesn’t shy from that truth.

I think a lot about “Born to Run.” In Blinded by the Light, it tracks the film’s cinematic set-piece. Javed and his friend, the one who introduced him to Bruce, commandeer the school’s radio and put on “Born to Run” before escaping into a musical montage, running, singing, dancing through the streets of Luton, with everyone around them getting swept up, if not in the music then in their joy. It is one of the best musical sequences set to film. It is so pure, it is so happy, it is so liberated. It makes me so happy for their happiness I want to cry.

“Born to Run” is one of Springsteen’s best known songs, of course, and while I kind of hate the chorus, I think, with startling regularity, about the woah(s). I think about the delivery of “I wanna know if love is wild / babe I wanna know if love is real” and I think about singing, and running, and music that makes you want to move, and how much a single sound speaks to every single thing I love about music. I love “Born to Run” because I love that it drills into my desire to actively share it with other people more than, perhaps, any other Springsteen song.

There is something to be said, good and bad, that Springsteen is the musical artist at the heart of this movie. Springsteen’s not simple. The Springsteen Discourse is prismatic to an almost stressful degree. Pick your area of interest and fracture off into a thousand potential discussions — it’s what makes him such a curious artist in 2019. He is both so much more interesting (and popular across demographics) than a casual music fan might think, and yet laboriously so. To engage is to grapple with four-plus decades of context, history and musical output when you could also just write him off as another baby boomer rocker beloved by old white dudes. Hell, Javed’s friends and family write him of as such. Which is just to say, it’s easy to imagine his name and his music alienating viewers.

But Blinded by the Light is simple. Blinded by the Light will, of course, hit harder if you love Springsteen, but it nonetheless resonates with the experience of discovering the right music at the right time. The music that affects you up so purely, so passionately, you’re a fan for life.