Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (DVD Review)

Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo, The Shock Doctrine)
Cast: Andy Serkis, Naomie Harris, Bill Milner, Tom Hughes, Clifford Samuel, Olivia Williams, Ray Winstone, Toby Jones
UK, 2010

Reason to see: I'm always curious about music biopics

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is an unconventional biopic on punk rocker Ian Dury of Ian Dury and The Blockheads that has frantic and colourful approach in both vision and spirit. The film features Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) in a brilliant performance as the unapologetic Ian Dury, who is as brash as a brawler and has the intensity of a superstar.

There is a fantastic manic energy to the film which creates a bumpy and patch-work foundation which mimics perfectly the life of Ian as we follow him from gig to gig, apartment to apartment, wife to lover as well as delving into his childhood riddled with challenging memories of dealing with the effects of polio. It carefully balances showing that understanding someone's past can gain insight into a person along with showing how we shouldn't make assumptions based on either past nor actions themselves.

The film has a fantastic cast that really shine in the film, along with Andy Serkis as Ian we have the formidable Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) as his wife Betty, Ray Winstone (Beowulf, Sexy Beast) as his father, Naomie Harris as his girlfriend Denise and Bill Milner as his son Baxter and they along with band members and unconventional child minders fill out the very non-traditional extended family that is provides a lot of the tension but also joy of the film. I really enjoyed seeing these dynamics, even though they certainly provided some tense and bizarre situations, they always felt very genuine with a strong emotional resonance. Although the music and performances were extremely intense and interesting, it was the family and history pieces that I found the most intriguing although all were done very well.

I think the film is enjoyable for punk rockers at heart like myself, but also holds a much wider appeal because of the unabashed message of not hiding who you are but really being who you are, and the bravery that takes is clearly demonstrated not only through the Ian but also in the film itself. If you listen to the commentary there are many notations to challenges along the way and how they dealt with them, a huge inspirational feat in it of itself and many of the challenges were things that ended up resulting in fantastic things that we get to see on screen that wouldn't have happened otherwise. And that, my friends is a sign true art in the making which is what we get with Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll.

DVD Extras:
  • Audio commentary with the sex&drugs&rock&roll team pretty entertaining audio commentary that was recording during Tribeca and includes director Mat Whitecross, writer Paul Viragh and actor Andy Serkis. I loved when the discussed the little changes of things here and there that may not have been exactly what happened but always were in the spirit of the experiences of Ian's life, and there is also lots of discussion about the challenges during filming, how they overcame them and lots of interesting choices made throughout the filming experience.
  • My Tribeca Story with director Mat Whitecross (2 minutes) interview with Mat Whitecross that touches on the inspiration to do the film, challenges through filming and showing the film at Tribeca as a different model.
  • An Interview with the sex&drugs&rock&roll team (3 minutes) film clips plus interview with director Mat Whitecross, writer Paul Viragh and actor Andy Serkis discussing main character Ian Dury, the film as a fighter's story, making a non-traditional biopic and releasing it at a Festival.
  • Deleted Scenes (4 scenes, 8 minutes) different format than I've usually seen here as there are 2 groups of scenes put together with one set of three, and then an individual scene that's an extended version. I enjoyed seeing the deleted scenes but liked them as an DVD extra over being incorporated into the film.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is available on DVD as of February 1, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it, especially to music fans

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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