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Watched: 11 November

Would you make a fictional film about the early life of pop star and former Smiths frontman Morrissey? Even the man himself would probably advise you not to bother; any new or old fans who are interested can go through the vast archive of interviews in which his teenage loneliness, awkwardness and precociousness is discussed in depth, or you could even read the few chapters in his autobiography that cover the period (before he spends 150 pages settling scores with former bandmates and legal eagles). For Morrissey, and no doubt for many other teenagers in late-1970s and early 1980s Stretford, life was pretty dull and full of tricky things to negotiate; thus there’s an obvious appeal in sitting safely in your bedroom writing passionate letters to the NME and angst-ridden poetry, and naturally glam rock and punk – with all its outlandish costumes and larger-than-life figures – presents an obvious form of escapism, a way of leaving the drudgery behind. However I don’t think that any of this works particularly well in this biopic, especially when that’s all there is for us to see, because Marc Gill’s film ends just at the point that Morrissey’s life starts to become interesting, having met guitarist and songwriting partner Johnny Marr; a tantalising and daring move by the director, but ultimately one that backfires. Even as a fan of The Smiths I found this film’s endless navel-gazing tiresome, and lost count of the number of scenes in which a fey, shy, unsure Moz (Jack Lowden) mopes around his brown bedroom, the camera glancing briefly at records or trusted female companions or a picture of Oscar Wilde. I’m interested in this period of his life because of the music that came out of it, but fuck me watching an entire film about it is boring; there’s little of the wider environment and too much of the outsider indoors. Give me Anton Corbijn’s film Control, about the formative years of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, over this any day; there’s real artistry to the way that bedsit life in 1970s Granadaland is presented in that film, and it has many other things to say, show and suggest to boot. (**)


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