Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché


Biography / Documentary / Music

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 98%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 417

punk rock feminism

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
June 05, 2022 at 07:24 PM


Top cast

Ruth Negga as Poly Styrene
David Bowie as Self
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
884.57 MB
English 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 36 min
P/S ...
1.78 GB
English 5.1
25 fps
1 hr 36 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by garethcrook 8 / 10

Think you know Poly?...

I'm reasonably clued up when it comes to the origins of punk. I know Poly Styrene and X-Ray Spex, but only really as fronting a great band. This goes deeper, her story told by Celeste Bell, her daughter. It's very personal with Bell narrating, slowly going through Poly's belongings and history, an impressive archive of her life. Marion Elliot. Brixton. Late 70s. Mixed race, confused in a volatile society fuelled by hatred and the NF. She was a fighter. Proud, defiant, but still with a youthful fragility. If punk was about anything, it was taking a stand and claiming an identity and Poly managed that brilliantly in what's still a almost exclusively male world. Poly was more punk than most, she was clearly having a blast, but it still meant something. A pure DIY ethic. Home made clothes, hand drawn album art. Certainly more punk than half the hangers on that the scene created. It's mostly made up of photos, old footage, lyrics on scraps of paper, all with the occasional respite of Bell looking wistfully over books, trying on clothes, visiting locations that tie the narrative together. There's plenty of music, live clips, easily proving her punk icon status and a roll call of names all singing her praises, Kathleen Hanna, Don Letts, John Cooper Clark, Pauline Black, band members and family. These voices together with Poly (Ruth Negga bringing Poly to life via her diaries) and Celeste make up the backbone and give it a real honesty and authenticity. Sadly it's not in any way as original as Poly, but it's enjoyable and informative. Much in the same way White Riot is about the Rock Against Racism gig that X-Ray Spex played. Poly's story is interesting, both from the band perspective, the music and the person. The vacuousness of fame, fake and plastic, ultimately finding weaknesses that would haunt her. It takes a toll. Thought that she went mad. Diagnosed with schizophrenia instead of bipolar, aged 21. She wound up in a psyche ward, tranquillised. It's really sad, not only for Poly, but for Celeste recounting the feelings of her 4 year old self. Forced to walk away for herself after just 1 record. She recognised what she needed to do to survive. Continuing to write, there was a solo album that didn't do well and Poly was dropped by EMI. A career over, married with a child at 24, looking for an anchor and finding one with the Hare Krishna via a trip to India. An about turn perhaps, but one that worked for a time. There's not much music left behind, but this proves there was a life fully lead. Thrown a myriad of obstacles from that formative racism to the cancer that took her. Remarkable woman.

Reviewed by timleesongs 8 / 10

The personal behind the persona

Fascinating documentary film about Poly Styrene on Sky Arts (thankfully also on NowTV). It takes the angle of her daughter who had a difficult childhood living in the shadow of a famous mother with bipolar disorder.

A very emotional journey from childhood fear and neglect to acceptance, love and reconciliation.

The personal behind the persona. Loved it.

Reviewed by joebloggscity 7 / 10

A documentary with an Identity!

Up front I'll admit I was already a fan of X-Ray Spex from years back, and loved some of their tunes. Over the years I'd seen lots of references to the influcence that Poly Styrene had on the evolution of various strands of music in particular 'Grrrl Power' music from which there's been lots of great music.

So this documentary was one I was looking forward to, and much credit to the creators of this documentary they have created a mostly honest documentary that shows her life from beginning to end. Led & narrated by her daughter, it takes us through generations that were unique in the pre-internet days.

It mostly avoids hagiography although is partisan in its outlook on. The documentary fairly shows a warts 'n all side to her, as she made her mistakes as all do. This is no reality TV show with heartbreaking melodrama but a genuine story of a person, of an era and the good & bad that came through that Punk era.

She survived, but sadly is no longer with us.

Would I recommend this? To anyone who is interested in the Punk, Indie & New Wave alternative scenes, then I'd say very much "YES". It's no utopia but that's what makes it interesting.

As said, it will definitely be for those from a certain generation and also who share a love of the indie scene music. A great honest tribute to a very unique & interesting alternative artist.

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