A very quick review on a doc I enjoyed while in the midst of SxSW screenings!

Poly Styrene was a name I forgot about but as soon as POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHE started up I was immediately reminded of my teenage punk phase and searching out alternative British Rock when I wasn’t constantly listening to The Rolling Stones and Joy Division on repeat. Poly’s music was definitely on the list of song tracks I would play on repeat.

This documentary, directed by Paul Sng focuses on her daughter Celeste Bell (also a co-director on the doc) who is reflecting on her mother’s passing and reflecting on her connections. It’s a complicated story with a lot of history, but we are quickly invited into her world. We see a lot of Celeste being filmed as she reflects along with ner narration, which is a really nice touch. Along with being a personal story from Celeste’s perspective, the doc also features many punk-rock staples of the time also reflecting on a bygone era. 

I AM A CLICHE is a bit slow and meandering but that’s also kind of the point; the doc is an interesting mix of old clips, voiceover stories and reflections on a more free-spirit era that is LONG gone now and it needs this type of design to reflect. The doc isn’t perfect (Poly’s name is said what feels like a few hundred times over the course of 90 minutes and it’s quite irritating) but I can clearly tell the passion behind the doc and the immense amount of research that went into it. It has a lot of drive behind it. Strongly recommended for fans of the British Punk-Rock scene.

Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché is now streaming on SxSW Online.

This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to!

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