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Hard-knocks to magnificence.
on 29 July 2010
Ian Dury's life was tumultuous, but maybe not quite as exciting as this film. From the thrilling Peter Blake animated montage opening to a glorious 'coming of age' moment experienced by Baxter Dury at the end, the film won't let the viewer relax.
Andy Serkis is painfully realistic as Dury, forever imprisoned in his calliper and haunted by memories of being struck down with Polio, agonising confinement in an iron lung, and his time in the Chailey hospice for disabled children. The message of Chailey that stayed with Ian throughout his life was that if you fell down, you get yourself up again: which is all well and good, as long as those meant to encourage you are not sadists. The warder in charge of Dury's ward provided further inspiration for his irascibility. Dury's reaction to the man's fate is understandable, only shocking if you were 'on the board' and not in the ward.
There are surely few men whose wives and mistresses actually bond through the shared experience of living with, caring for and putting up with a man as 'difficult' as Dury. Olivia Williams and Naomie Harris give passionate performances. Ray Winstone gives a touching portrayal of father Bill Dury - himself ordering his son to get himself onto his feet - loving and gentle, despite a gruff demeanor.
This is as much Baxter Dury's story as it is his father's: From the moment of his birth, we follow Baxter's difficult childhood and his father's idiosyncratic involvement. In fact, Baxter shared the role of right-hand man for his father with Chaz Jankel - both in the band that started as the Kilburns (Kilburn and the High Roads) and evolved into the Blockheads - and in everyday life.
This is a tremendous acheivement. Dury might have scoffed and argued about goodness-knows-what, but I think he would be deeply moved by the film. Often frighteningly powerfull and funny, this is a high-standard Biopic of a much-missed man. Punk's Noel Coward crossed with Gene Vincent and Spartacus - Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Ian Dury!