I went to see the film about Ian Dury, “Sex and drugs and rock and roll” at the Cornerhouse on Thursday, having missed it when it was doing the rounds of the mainstream cinemas.
I like quite a lot of Ian Dury’s music and admire the way he was able to overcome the problems associated with his disability. He didn’t try to hide it, but was out and proud as a disabled person as demonstrated by his song – “Spasticus autisticus”. The film suggested that he was influenced by the Kirk Douglas film “Spartacus”. “I’m Spartacus” becoming “I’m Spastacus”, a statement that he was disabled and proud of it. Yet the central point of this was not understood by many people who felt that his gesture was offensive. Many people want the disabled to fade into the background, not make themselves the centre of attention. Well, Ian Dury’s life was all about doing that.
The film mainly covered Ian Dury’s rise to become a chart success with the Blockheads after his earlier band “Kilburn and the Highroads” fell apart with some flashbacks to his childhood and earlier life. Overall it was a straight biopic but with some fantasy or cartoon style scenes. It rushed through at quite a pace and sometimes it was hard to work out exactly who was who and what was happening.
The central performance by Andy Serkis was outstanding. He brought the character to life and captured the essence of Ian Dury. He wasn’t a particularly pleasant character in many ways.He played the cheeky cockney but, in the film, he came across as irresponsible with a touch of ruthlessness and unpleasantness. Like many musicians his personal life was a mess, leaving his wife and two kids fo a younger woman (played by Naomi Harris in the film – another good performance) but still flitting in and out of their lives.
Overall, I enjoyed the film, and it was worth the trip into Manchester.