“Will Sandra Bullock get nominated?” asked my 13-year-old daughter, blown away like the rest of us by the feel-good Christmas movie of the season, The Blind Side.
“I’m not sure,” I said, “but she should.”
Bullock clinched the Best Actress for me when her character stopped the family car to help a boy clad in a thin tee shirt, walking and shivering in the rain. She had seen him at her kids’ Christian private school, and asked him if he had a place to stay that night. “Don’t you dare lie to me,” she said to the teen, drawing on her maternal bravado. Then she took him home, tucked him in, and adopted him as her son.
The rags-to-riches tour de force is certainly Bullock’s film, but the saga based on a real life story (below) engages us in a way that makes it our film, too, and our story of redemption. We want to be part of the benevolent village that rescued gentle giant, Michael Oher, taking him out of the projects and into the world of private education and college football. Filling the Salvation Army cup at Christmas just isn’t enough, the film poignantly illustrates, leaving us awed by pure Christianity in action.
Most startling of all was how the Tuohy family of Memphis took a complete stranger into their own home, knowing nothing about him except that he was cold, hungry and had no place to sleep. In an interview with the family, members admitted that southern matriarch Leigh Anne just had it in her to take the homeless teen under her able wing.
“It was just mother’s intuition,” said the former Ole Miss cheerleader, who did everything a mother would do for her son: dress him, feed him, tutor him in school, and guide his athletic career.
“It was a turn over, and lately I’m just into that word, turn over,” says Leigh Ann. A turn over, indeed. How many of us have the courage to do what this woman did?
While Bullock infused the character with a Scarlett O’Hara spunk, she drew her inspiration from the real life heroine, who boldly marched into the rough projects to trace her adopted son’s roots, and then later to search for him after a family squabble returned him to his original home.
Her two other children, Collins and SJ, were good sports about Michael moving in and joining the family, as was Leigh Anne”s husband, Sean. A delightful scene is when the four pose for their traditional family holiday shot in their Sunday finest, adding Michael as an afterthought to the picture for fun. Naturally, that is the image the mother sends out – raising eyebrows among her Memphis society lunch pals.
“You are really changing that boy’s life,” one of them says over an $18 salad. “No, answers Leigh Anne, “he has changed mine.”
My own mother urged me to see this heartwarming film, and I’m glad I saw it with my two daughters, who volunteer at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. We need our children not to turn a blind eye to life on the other side of the tracks. This film is a first step for some, even if it is a dramatic reenaction starring the stunning Bullock.
We cried, we laughed, we flinched, but mostly, we rooted for the dignified Michael in this story of redemption. And then we asked ourselves, why just one?