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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll


Starring: Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris, Ray Winstone, Olivia Williams and Noel Clarke
Entertainment in Video
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 17 May 2010

When Ian Dury burst upon the scene in the midst of the punk era no one had quite seen a performer like this. His lyrics and style could range wildly between the supremely sentimental to the spitting invective of a man with a message...

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010 - 1 hr, 50 min, 18 sec) is a biopic of the late, great Ian Dury who fronted The Blockheads. The film was written by Paul Viragh, directed by Mat Whitecross. The film won the Evening Standard British Film Award for Andy Serkis, as best actor and was nominated for a further three awards, including two BAFTA’s.

I can’t help but feel that you would need to be a fan of Dury’s music to fully enjoy the film. Dury had an almost staccato delivery, admitting, in life, that he found it almost impossible to sing across two differing notes.

Andy Serkis, finally putting behind the spectre of CGI work, looks unnervingly like Dury. His performance pulls few punches either. Dury was not an easy man to live or play with, especially his predilection for firing drummers. This is not a biopic which attempts to paper over the cracks either. From the film's perceptive Dury was a talented, but insanely narcissistic character whose passions drove his music but often at the expense of his personal life.

The film opens with Dury on stage, ready to tell his tale which starts with his as a fit young man (Wesley Nelson) who contracts polio from a swimming pool, a fact that seems to have been both a source of strength and bitterness in Dury’s life. Through montage and plain narrative we see Dury and the band play a disastrous pub gig where at least he meets his future mistress Denise (Naomie Harris). Beneath all this fun is Dury’s real and predominantly abandoned family, including his long suffering wife Betty (Olivia Williams), who can’t quite live with Dury, but at the same time can’t quite bring herself to cut all ties. At first on the edge of the action, but soon central to the narrative, is Dury’s son, Baxter (Bill Milner). Ray Winston pops up as Dury’s equally absent father.

In truth, this film felt a bit disconnected. As a fan of Dury I was more interested in the man’s music rather than his family. There is a disproportionate importance given to his family life to the point that if you didn’t know who he was you would get the feeling that The Blockheads never really achieved the fame that they actually did. From about half way through the film skews even more when it moves away from Dury to his relationship with his son, fine in itself, but I don’t think that this is what Blockheads fans really want to know. In the latter part of the film focus return to Dury with the controversy over his single ‘Spasticus Autisticus’, it seems that it is okay to be disabled so long as you don’t sing about it

The Blu-ray is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.78:9 and a DTS HD audio, which makes the most of the musical numbers. The extras are a little disappointing only consisting of Cast and Crew Interviews with the director and seven of the cast; these are all fairly short with few longer than five minutes. There are five deleted scenes which, whilst interesting in their own right don’t really add anything to the film and the B-roll which gives a glimpse behind the making of the film.

Overall there is much to like about the film, the performances are pretty faultless, but the concentration on his family life might leave some fans disappointed. As a Blu-ray the disc disappoints.


Charles Packer

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