POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHE – Review by Martha K Baker

This biodoc of the punk rocker Poly Styrene, born Marion Elliott Said in 1957, reels from the point of view of her daughter, Celeste Bell. As co-director with Paul Sng, Bell thumbs through scrapbooks, diaries, and poems, which Bell inherited after her mother died at 53 in 2011. Five years later, Bell was ready to address this legacy. The result is historical and a little hysterical.

Read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 4, 2022: POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHE

Documentaries don’t get much more personal than Celeste Bell and Paul Sng’s poignant, revealing Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliche. Like Bell’s 2018 book, Day Glo: The Poly Styrene Story, it tells the fascinating story of the memorable but too-short life of Bell’s mother, British punk pioneer Marianne Joan Elliott-Said (aka Poly Styrene), who fronted the band X-Ray Spex in the 1970s and earned recognition for songs like “Oh Bondage! Up Yours!”

Read more

POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

I wasn’t acquainted with Poly Styrene, aka Marian Joan Elliot-Said, the frontwoman of England’s X-Ray Spex. This mixed-race daughter of a Somali dockworker and a Scottish-Irish legal secretary initially filled her time with travel, sewing alternative fashions and failing as a pop-reggae singer. But she stopped in her tracks when she saw the Sex Pistols perform on her 19th birthday and that was how her stage persona was born. That gave her a chance to put together a band with three male musicians along with female saxophonist Lora Logic, whose instrument went way outside the punk aesthetic. Styrene even designed the logo for the band and was fond of Day-Glo colors.

Read more

POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHE – Review by Loren King

As Pauline Black of the band “The Selecter,” puts it, “The world is playing catch up with Poly Styrene, not the other way around.” That’s one of many insights in the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche, about the musician and writer who blazed a trail in the London punk/rock scene between 1976 and 1979 with the band she founded and fronted X-Ray Spex. The documentary is co-directed by Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell and represents the young woman’s moving attempt to chronicle and honor her mother’s life and to reconcile their often fraught relationship.

Read more

POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHÉ (MIFF2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

“My mother was a punk rock icon”, filmmaker Celeste Bell says as the film begins. “People often ask me if she was a good mum. It’s hard to know what to say.” Beginning at the end of her mother’s life with Marianne’s funeral, Bell continues to explain how “surreal” the event was, surrounded by people who were mourning an image, while she was suffering the loss of her mother, with whom we discover as the film continues, she had a tumultuous yet ultimately warm and close relationship.

Read more