10 out of 10

Release Date: 8th January 2010

Director: Mat Whitecross (Spike Island / Ashes  / The Road To Guantanemo)

Cast: Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris, Bill Milner, Olivia Williams, Tom Hughes, Toby Jones, Luke Evans, Michael Maloney, Ralph Ineson, Andrew Knott, Ross Boatman, Sam Spruell, Wesley Nelson, Charlotte Beaumont with Noel Clarke,  Mackenzie Crook and Ray Winstone

Writer: Paul Virago


sexanddrugsTO BE PROOFREAD: Sex & Drugs & Rock-n-Roll could contain Andy Serkis‘ best ‘organic’ film performance to date. I use the term organic because Serkis has for a long time now cloaked his image in CGI and advanced motion capture technology performances to new realms, in fact it’s so rare that we see his real face, in fact at my reckoning it was his cameo in Dexter Fletcher’s Wild Bill.  In Sex & Drugs & Rock-n-Roll he portrays music idol Ian Dury, who took the UK charts by storm with his unique brand of tricknology and word wizardry, along with the knack for a good melody. Ian Dury was also a polio survivor and unconvnetional envoy for his fellow ‘raspberry ripples’ – this film is a chronicle of the his life between the break-up of his first band Kilburn and The High Roads to the period where he released the controversial Spasticus Autisticus.

The film’s framing device is a strange live show with Serkis and actors performing cover versions of Blockheads tunes, along with candid anecdotes. These scenes are intercut throughout the movie’s more conventionally mounted stretches to great effect. This effective gimmick allows the story to dip in and out of events and blend seemlessly with recreated pop videos, drug fuelled fantasy sequences and mellow flashbacks. For once the effect isn’t distracting and presenting the movie like a scrapbook suits the films subject as it jumps from topic to mood like an eplictical frog. This works because of it’s believable and hardworking cast. From the performance of a life time given by Serkis to the smallest of cameos from famous faces like Noel Clarke (STAR TREK 2) and Mackenzie Crook (THE OFFICE), everybody scores a goal. The two suffering women in his life, Denise (NAOMIE HARRIS – THE FIRST GRADER) the new life partner and Bet (OLIVIA WILLIAMS – ALTAR) as wife and mother of his children, Baxter (BILL MILNER – SON OF RAMBOW) and Jemima (CHARLOTTE BEAUMONT) aren’t given short shrift as well. We get a window into their pain of living with a force of nature and at time, a very selfish person.  Passages where the film moves back in time to Dury’s childhood are the films heart. These scenes feature Ray Winstone (THE GUNMAN) playing his father as a gentle giant of a man without the means to bring a child up by himself. There’s no mention of a mother – except for in a chat-up line he uses on Denise near the beginning.  Sombre and very sad, they give moments of quiet and reflection in a otherwise chaotic movie.  Bill Milner is great as Dury’s son and under-aged stooge, Baxter Front! He puts in a great performance of bewilderment, boredom and frustration and is more than a match for the towering Serkis.

True it’s an unconventional take on the musical ‘biopic’ but I think the director and the production team have completed a perfect job considering its subject. ian dury was an incredible public figure and a true original.  This film is a great tribute to him, warts and all, delivered by an amazing cast. One of the best Britpics of the 2010s so far. Seek it out!

10 out of 10 – Hit me with your rhythm stick used to drive me mad as a kid. I loved it and used to shout it at the top of my voice whenever they came on TV. Hit MEEE!!!!



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