Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

August 12, 2010

Whilst probably not the most exciting film of the year (and, in this respect at least, a slightly odd choice for the festival’s ‘closing night’ which was actually the festival’s penultimate night), Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010) is an entertaining, if curious, biopic of front man Ian Dury (Andy Serkis) from Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Fast-paced punk and new wave angst aside, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll also paints a dramatic portrait of Dury’s personal life, focusing for the most part on his roles and relationships as both father and son.

Due to the somewhat schizophrenic subject matter, the film’s formal set up attempts to follow suit rebounding between cartoon-like cut and paste collage, populist slo-mo, the occasional bit of experimental editing, and then 180s all the way back to straight-up “mainstream drama” cinematography. Although the change of pace seems to accurately reflect Dury’s own unpredictable nature and unwieldy approach to balancing his personal and professional lives, it is also wildly distracting.

The strength of the film comes solely from Serkis’ performance, which is, absolutely faultless. The supporting cast is ‘good’ but unfortunately constantly pale in comparison to Serkis’ lead, making most of the other characters in the film feel a little underwhelming at best. But despite being decidedly messy as an end product, the era appropriate art direction and the music content are both excellent, contributing to the vibrant (if inconsistent) mise-en-scenes. One to see – but then move on from – Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll offers the rollicking good time its title would suggest.

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