Rude Boy (1980)

Posted: April 25, 2022 in MUSIC
The poster for RUDE BOY

Hazan and Mingay caused a stir with 1973’s A Bigger Splash, a film about the painter David Hockney and his circle that uneasily blended fly-on-the-wall footage, restaged scenes based on real events, and fantasy sequences. This docu-fiction approach carries through to “Rude Boy”, the Clash movie notoriously disowned by the Clash. A real-life character named Ray Gange is the central figure, playing an unflattering version of himself as a beer-swilling Clash hanger-on who finds the band’s political lyrics annoying and proves to be an unreliable roadie on their tour. Rude Boy is a disjointed patchwork that obliquely gestures towards a negative verdict on punk’s political potency. An unconnected subplot involving Jamaican-British kids colliding with the judicial system hints that the tribulations of white youth are trifling in comparison; the film glumly ends with Margaret Thatcher waving from 10 Downing Street after a landslide Conservative victory in May 1979, as if to say all those righteous anthems and Rock Against Racism benefits achieved little. But despite its listless pace, the film holds your attention with electrifying concert footage, low-key “off-duty” scenes with the ever-luminous Strummer, and glimpses of the sheer crapness of the U.K. in the late ’70s, which resembles an Eastern Bloc country more than the touristic image of Great Britain.

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