THE BLIND SIDE (12A) THIS true story is based on Michael Lewis’s book The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game. We learn straight away that it is a true story as there is footage of the real main characters from the off and at the end. The title is a football reference, which means protecting the blind side of a quarterback. African American ‘Big Mike’ Michael Oher (Quiton Aaron) has spent his early life being appallingly neglected, shuttled from pillar to post from one foster home to another, ending up at Mississippi projects. But though he has a very low IQ and is a non-starter at school, football teacher Coach Cotton (Ray McKinnon) spies him. This results in him being given a scholarship to a Catholic prep school.

When interior designer Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) realises that Michael is a homeless boy, she and her husband take him in. And it is amongst the bosom of her family, which includes daughter Collins (Lily Collins) and son SJ (Jae Head) that his world takes on a different meaning. At first things don’t go according to plan, as Michael doesn’t have the killer instinct in him to win. But under young SJ’s guidance and with Leigh Anne’s wisdom things start to improve. She tells him to imagine the team is his family and he needs to protect them. But he still has a major obstacle to overcome if he is to stay in the sport. His grades must improve if he is to get into college and further his ambition to be a footballer.

A major plus for many women is despite this being a story about an American footballer, writer/director John Lee Hancock has spared us the football pitch – except for the intro - for the first hour. Frankly if I never see an American football game again, I will be happy. The players are so camouflaged from top to toe in padding it’s impossible to know who is who.

But though this is unnecessarily long it is still a truly inspirational tale, even with its very bland score. Bullock’s extremely convincing performance draws you in, and her scenes with Aaron are disarmingly tender. What a relief after her tiresomely dippy Mary in January’s All About Steve. That said, Leigh Ann is such an amazing woman if it wasn’t a true story the cynic in me would have found it impossible to believe. Bullock shows here as she did in Crash (2004) that drama is her forte and not comedy. This is a really worthwhile feel-good film, which shows the importance of family.

Clare Shepherd 8/10