Good Evening, I’m from Essex

sex & drugs & rock & roll

As far as geezer films go, sex & drugs & rock & roll is really rather good. Compared to the other roster of muso films currently doing the rounds, the Ian Dury biog is bloody brilliant.

I enjoyed the film far more than I have ever enjoyed Dury’s music. There’s something about the cockney wide boy doing funk that doesn’t fit well with my musical taste. The film itself overlooks the unique musical combination, and concentrates instead on the lyrics and language of Dury.

The poetry of Dury has always been the appeal for me. It was all about setting a scene that the audience can identify with, and then coming up with the filthiest innuendo to keep the human-interest angle:

“I had a love affair with Nina in the back of my Cortina
a seasoned up hyena could not have been more obscener
she took me to the cleaners and other misdemeanours
but I got right up between her rum and her Ribena.”

Director Mat Whitecross picks up on this prevision. The carnal excesses of the classic Essex Man must have made filming fun for lead man Andy Serkis.

“I’d rondez-vouez with Jane quite near the Isle of Thanet
she looked more like a gannet
she wasn’t half a prannet
her mother tried to ban it
her father helped me plan it
and when I captured Janet she bruised her pomegranate.”

Every time, the dirty dog.

The sex & drugs & rock & roll title sums up the 115 minutes of onscreen naughtiness. It also explains how Dury was such a complex character, a trait that leads Serkis’ portrayal of Dury to turn the main character into something of a musical monster.

Aside from all the shagging and pill popping, the film is essentially about fatherhood. Ray Winstone is rolled out as the father figure, with the father and son relationship then developing between Dury and his own son, Baxter.

The cinematography is quite stunning. Attention to period and stage detail is impressive. There’s a real sense of coming out of the late ’70s with Kilburn and the High Roads, and then the start of a bright new cultural decade as the band morphs into the Blockheads.

The stage performances are great fun, even if it took the fragrant mrs onionbagblogger almost halfway through the film to realise that she wasn’t watching a Bad Manners biog.

I attempted some Dury style serenading of my own on the back seat of the 333 bus as we left Brixton. The innuendo of flashing your oyster, sitting back and enjoying the ride, was totally lost on mrs obb. We settled instead for some nonsense all about Nando’s along Stockwell Road.


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