SEX AND DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLL, 2010
Cast: Andy Serkis, Ray Winstone, Olivia Williams, Naomie Harris, Mackenzie Crook, Luke Evans, Noel Clarke
A biography of Ian Dury who was stricken with polio at a young age and defied expectations by becoming one of the founder of the punk-rock scene in Britain in the 1970s.
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With the award season underway and many drama films being released to get high recognition, Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll (dir. Mat Whitecross) is not your typical drama film, twisting the traditional biography film. And already, itís one of my favourite films this year!
The story is about Ian Dury (Andy Serkis) and how he became a recognisable British rock icon through the seventies and eighties, as well as seeing his history of getting polio from childhood and how he accepted his disability.
With the traditional biography story structure being used that has also been seen in films like Walk the Line (dir. James Mangold) and Nowhere Boy (dir. Sam Taylor Wood), the way itís written and directed makes something new out of the familiar structure that definitely feels welcome. For example, we see the main character narrating and singing his stories towards a live crowd, with these scenes feeling like a very crazy televised gig, while the first half of the film is edited and shot in a way that makes the audience definitely see how Dury thinks and sees the world around him.
Itís only in the second half of the story when things slow down from the fast-paced first half, seeing how the main character has faced reality and starts to come around from his manic reputation, giving the film a much needed dramatic approach that feels very welcoming. This is also accompanied by the flashbacks of his childhood and how he was treated, accompanying with the dramatic change very well.
One of the true highlights about this film is how great all the performances are, especially with Andy Serkisí portrayal as the famed singer.
Moving away from the motion capture suits that he wore to play Gollum, King Kong and Captain Haddock in next yearís The Adventures of Tintin (dir. Steven Spielberg), Andy Serkis shows his acting talents away from computers and has really shown that heís one of Britainís best actors of his generation. Already getting mentions on the possibilities of getting a BAFTA nomination, his portrayal as Ian Dury is brilliant and he never shows any lack in his performance.
The other actors and actresses in the film have also done a great job playing their characters as well. This is especially true with Bill Milner as Duryís son, Baxter, and while it was a bit hard to see him turn from innocent schoolboy to a rebel at first, it didnít take too long to get used to the changed characteristics. I was surprised to see Ray Winstone and Noel Clarke doing small roles in the film and even though they were in for five minutes, they did shine on screen.
Moving away from his documentary reputation, which includes the acclaimed The Road to Guantanamo (dir. Mat Whitecross), the directorís move on a biography film is quite a surprising transition that has worked really well. As for his take on the crazy screenplay, heís done it in a very social-realistic way that audiences of all ages could recognise and has made the film highlight the eighties rock ní roll attitude with high accuracy.
First-time screenwriter Paul Viragh wrote the screenplay and he has written a well-crafted story thatís also quite different as well. Even with the story structure being the same as other biography films that people wouldíve most likely have seen before, his inclusion of Ian Dury narrating on stage, musical segments as a way to enter the next step in the story and dramatic flashbacks help to make it more than what couldíve easily been another dramatic film. For a debut in screenwriting, Viragh definitely has a career built for him in the profession.
Even though I would love to talk in detail about the other crewmembers responsible for the editing and cinematography, I can only say that they have all done really well to make the film as odd and dramatic without ruining the experience. The soundtrack is also a very high praise and is one of the most entertaining to feature in a film in recent years.
The final results on Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll is that itís a great British film that definitely deserves to be seen, even if itís just seeing Andy Serkis not in a motion capture suit. But be warned: those who didnít like the style of Bronson (dir. Nicolas Winding Refn) might want to take caution and consider seeing Nowhere Boy instead.