The early career of Boy George and Culture Club might seem less than promising material for a biopic, especially since the really dramatic chapters in George's life -- the drug busts, the community service in New York, the prison stretch for assaulting and falsely imprisoning a male escort in his London flat -- all took place in this century.
Yet Worried About The Boy was a fantastic drama, unexpectedly tender and touching, and brilliantly captured London's 1980s New Romantic scene in all its shiny, posturing surface glamour and inner emptiness.
Newcomer Douglas Booth was excellent as George, nailing both the look and the voice perfectly -- although he has chiselled cheekbones that the real George, who acted as script advisor, would probably die for.
His George emerged as a fragile and often too-trusting soul who hides his vulnerability behind a veneer of bitchy put-downs and industrial strength acid wit. When we first meet him he's a disaffected teenager at school, heavily made-up and already a self-promoting work in progress.
"Unemployment is on the rise," his hapless career guidance teacher tells him, urging him to formulate a plan for the future. "What can you do better than the rest of us?"
"Make-up," replies George dryly.
Thereafter, writer Tony Basgallop and director Julian Jarrold's film flits back and forth between 1980 -- when George flees his dull suburban homelife and heads for the bright lights of London and murky depths of Covent Garden's achingly trendy Blitz club, which fancied itself as a homegrown Studio 54 -- and 1986, when he's a junkie pop star, holed up in his apartment with the paparazzi camped on his doorstep and the front pages of the tabloids baying for his blood.
The New Romantics were all about the look, and Worried About The Boy recreated both the look and the characters at the centre of the milieu superbly well. Marc Gatiss contributed a terrifically funny, note-perfect cameo as the late Malcolm McLaren, who shoehorned George into his creation Bow Wow Wow, only for the other members to rebel and kick him out.
Worried About The Boy ends abruptly, with Culture Club making their first, triumphant appearance on Top Of The Pops. There's a lot more of this story to be told, and you hope that the BBC will set Basgallop, Jarrold, and indeed George, to work on it as soon as possible.
A style icon from a different era was profiled in Cary Grant: A Class Apart, an outstanding two-hour documentary on Bio.
You don't normally expect a lot from Bio's biographies, which tend to be superficial and second-hand, but this was a remarkably candid film, covering in extraordinary detail Grant's alleged affair with Randolph Scott, his experiments with LSD, his many marriages, and the conflict in his life between his suave image and the insecure, working-class Bristol boy still lurking underneath. Fascinating.
Worried About the Boy HHHHI
Cary Grant: A Class Apart HHHHI