The Blind Side (2009)
John Lee Hancock, Director
Michael Corenblith, Production Designer
Susan Benjamin, Set Decorator
I saw the new movie, The Blind Side this weekend and loved it! It's based on the current, real life account of NFL player Michael Oher's rags to riches story. He was bouncing around the Memphis, Tennessee project of Hurt Village, his mother a crack addict with twelve children and no one to really look out for him. A big guy with athletic ability, he'd never spent much time in school and as a result, tested poorly and wasn't thought to be too bright, especially as he was shy and uncommunicative. He got a lucky break when a friend was accepted into a local elite private Christian academy and when he went a long for the ride, the athletic director immediately saw his potential while he was playing a quick game of one on one with his friend on the school's basketball court. The coach convinced the school board to take Michael in and thus began an odyssey that lead him to the Tuohy family's door. This affluent family had two kids enrolled in the school. Eventually, when realizing he was basically homeless, coatless, and foundering in school, Leigh Anne Tuohy invited him to spend the night. Eventually, with the help of a private tutor and a families love and encouragement, Michael flourished, ending his high school career with a decent enough GPA to play college ball, a bucket full of offers from the country's most elite football schools, an a new adoptive family who made it official just before his eighteenth birthday. In college, he made dean's list twice and was a first round draft pick to the NFL, where he currently is still only twenty three years old and plays for the Baltimore Raven's.
On the set decorating front, this movie is a good one as well. Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock) is professional interior decorator. Her husband, Scott Tuohy, well played by singer Tim McGraw, had been dirt poor growing up and is now owner of over 80 fast food franchises in the South. Their affluence is highlighted in the movie both to illustrate the enormous difference between the haves and have-nots, as well as to illustrate Leigh Anne's decorating skill and Sean's new money affluence. In some ways, the set looked very "new" and a little too squeaky clean - almost as if that was part of the goal - to illustrate the new money status of the family. And that is not to imply any kind of criticism, just a feeling while looking at the movie.
According to the production notes, the house used as the Tuohy's Memphis home was really in the affluent Buckhead section of Atlanta. Set decorator Susan Benjamin visited the family and studied Leigh Anne's decorating in order to capture it on film. I read in an interview with Leigh Anne that when asked what she thought of the movie, she said she'd have to see it again, as she spent the first viewing paying attention only to how they portrayed her home. And, that she didn't like the window treatments! I actually love the window treatments in the set - better than much of the furniture!
Younger son SJ (Sean Tuohy, Jr.) is a little firecracker and really bonds with his new BIG brother Michael. I did love the color palette in this movie with it's rich tones of apricots and orange, golds and browns. The architectural detailing in this home is wonderful and was a real standout in the film.
Here is the kitchen looking into the family room - with the two television sets. In the Thanksgiving scene in the movie, Leigh Anne is putting out a big spread for the family and Sean reminds the kids to thank "Mom for picking all the food up at the store". It makes sense that the kitchen isn't much of a "cook's kitchen". Pretty to look at, but not overly functional.
On the other side of the island. Not much in the way of counter space!
This is in the family room, on the left when looking in from the kitchen. I just loved all the fabrics and detailing on the window treatments, which included drapes, silk London shades and striped sheer London shades which varied position in different scenes.
This is the breakfast room off the kitchen and family room, which uses the same warm wall color and drapery fabric as is in the family room. Note the Glennray Tutor print on the left. Tutor is a photorealist painter who attended University of Mississippi - alma mater of the Tuoy's and Michael Oher. The black and bone inlay cabinet under the print is an ethnic and graphic piece that adds a layer of interest to the nearly homogeneous space.
Here's the formal dining room below. The family starts their take-out Thanksgiving dinner all sitting in front of the televisions watching football, but when Leigh Anne notices that Michael has seated himself at the table to eat, she's inspired to the same and makes the family turn off the games and join together in thanks.
The master bedroom featured a framed upholstered headboard (although it looks like wall behind them, there was a tall headboard) with windows flanking the bed. I love the large scale floral pattern on the window treatments with the continuation of the coppery orange and brown color scheme. In here, there is also a touch of blue in the bedding.
The table lamps are gorgeous and if anyone knows their source, please let us know! I was thinking Christopher Spitzmiller, but nothing like this appears on his site.
And speaking of blue, here is the newly done up bedroom for Michael. Leigh Anne is advised (by her younger son) that the pro-athletes use futon mattresses to accommodate their length, but she used a more attractive headboard and platform bed with the futon mattress, because the futon frames were "ugly and didn't belong in her home" (or something to that effect) - a truly decorator type comment. Meanwhile, Michael pointed out that this was his first bed. One of the reminders to Leigh Anne just how privileged she was to be able to be concerned with aesthetics. The deep turquoise walls with white trim and dark stained furniture was bold and strong, yet also vibrant and lively.
For the moment, these are all the best photos I'm able to glean from various sources. There were brief scenes in the two other kids bedrooms - the younger boys room was messy and the teenage girls room was girly and also a bit overstuffed and messy - probably the most realistic lived-in looking rooms in the home.
Have you seen this movie and what did you think?