out of Five
Running time: 90
Meet Lawrence, the musician who has been seeking stardom for so long he's willing to be the first pensioner popster. However Paul Kelly's intimate, touching documentary isn't just for fans of cult band Felt, with whom Lawrence came the closest to success back in the 80s, it's for anyone who's interested in music and the mechanisms of fame.
What’s it all about?
“Why isn't it breaking through? Why haven't I made it?” questions the penniless Lawrence as he examines Heroin, debts and homelessness as just a few of his ongoing problems, with the commercial failure of his music being what plagues him the most. Paul Kelly follows the musician as he composes and records new material with his current band Go Kart Mozart, as he goes on tour, gets evicted from his flat in Belgravia and desperately tries to scrape some money together. Interviews between Lawrence and various fans and bloggers punctuate the film while Lawrence recounts his life story to Kelly, and his view of what went wrong first with Felt, and then with his second band Denim. Despite this he still dreams of stardom. His fallback plan? Marry Kate Moss and set up a joint bank account.
Intimate access often equals uncritical filmmaking but Lawrence’s foibles are far from airbrushed here. At times the aging, pale, verging-on-skeletal musician appears a stubborn, dictatorial genius outsider and at others simply a delusional wannabe living on the dole, who craves fame so he never has to catch the tube again. Kelly sketches a sad life in this tragic tale, but humour often surfaces, provided by Lawrence's witty song lyrics and his bewilderment with the modern world and technology. “Why would you want 4,000 songs hanging round your neck?” he asks.
Lovingly photographed with plenty close ups of graffiti sprayed walls, gig posters and vinyl covers, Kelly’s film also captures London imaginatively too, setting the scene with some beautiful, snowy skyline shots that really evoke Lawrence’s lonely state. By the end of the film, you can’t help but sympathise with this figure who can’t survive financially just by making music but who couldn’t function without doing so, and is utterly unwilling to compromise. And if he doesn’t win you over, the soundtrack will.
Lawrence of Belgravia is a documentary about a musician not many people have even heard of, which turns out to be a rather lovely ode to music-making.
Lawrence Of Belgravia (15)