Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reasons to be Cheerful

Rambunctious, rhythmic and raw, ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll’ is all your mind and body need. Andy Serkis limps on stage and we are hurled into the whirlwind world of Ian Dury of Ian Dury and The Blockheads in a film that recalls the same Best of British energy that make music hall, skiffle, pub rock, The Kinks and Dizzee Rascal, truly unique.

Dury was the kind of unconventional pop success that image-driven shows like X Factor and Pop Idol have made seemingly impossible. Contracting polio at the of eight, abandonned by his father, Dury refused to let his disability define him. His withered left hand and left leg were part of his charm as a performer, his obviously love of wordplay, lyrical dexterity and caustic wit were the stars.

Above all else, he was his own man - and that is the personality that Andy Serkis captures on screen. Not to say the film is any kind of reverential tribute. This is Dury at his best and worst. Warts and all and all the better for it, spilling over with the restless energy of the working class artist.

The Blockheads music, rerecorded especially for the film, gives it its pulse, but stella performances across the board gift the film its heart. Serkis is ably supported by Olivia Williams and Naomi Harris as his wife and his lover, and Bill Milner is excellent as Dury’s conflicted son, Baxter.

The films moves at a ferocious pace, never dwelling but always taking the story forward. If you have any interest in British music or British films, like 24-Hour Party People, Backbeat and Telstar, this film is well worth your time. Highly recommended.