Monday, May 10, 2010


By D.E.Levine

A Tribeca Film Festival selection

Director: Mat Whitecross
Writer: Paul Viragh
Cast: Luke Evans, Ray Winstone, Olivia Williams, Naomie Harris, Andy Serkis, Noel Clarke, MacKenzie Crook, Toby Jones et al.
Producers: Damian Jones
Executive Producers: Ian Neil and Kevin Phelan
Co-producer: Michelle Eastwood, Justin Edgar, Jane Hooks and Alex Usborne
Original Music: Chaz Jankel
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Music

Brilliant is the only word one can use to describe Andy Serkis' portrayal of British punk rocker Ian Dury.

While the script isn't the strongest and is filled with many cliches, Serkis, who is best known for his portrayal of Gollum in Peter Jackson's trilogy "Lord of the Rings", a role in which Serkis wore a CGI suit and whose movements and nuances were translated into digital animation, gives a riveting performance.

As Ian Dury, a boy crippled by polio in his youth and ostracized by contemporaries, Serkis shows a verbally abusive, dishonest and disreputable genius who splits from his band, Kilburn and the High Roads, and forms a new band, the Blockheads.

The title is taken from a 1977 hit of Dury's. Dury is egotistical, angry and cruel gut he's also witty and charming.

Splitting from his long-suffering wife and taking up with a teenage girl, Dury achieved success as a musician but was unsuccessful at juggling family, fame and increasing alcoholism.

The film is a celebration of the music of the era and one 'outsider" who made good. After contracting polio swimming at Southend in the late 1940s, Dury suffered humiliation and taunting at school and those experiences strengthened his resolve to spurn pity and achieve.

Left partially paralyzed, using a leg brace and a cane and limping throughout his life, there is no doubt that it was the polio that shaped Ian Dury.

There are some heart tugging scenes in the film, and all the acting is superb. However, it is Andy Serkis' remarkable performance that centers and grounds the film.

Serkis died of cancer in 2000 and this film covers only a portion of his life, but the film is remarkable.