Fantasia ’21 Review – Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché

“Some people think little girls

Should be seen and not heard.

But I think

Oh Bondage! Up Yours!

A heartfelt, personal voyage through the life and death of the legendary Poly Styrene, lead singer of X-Ray Spex, as told by her daughter. Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché eschews talking heads and turns instead to extensive archive footage and Poly’s own diaries, given voice by Ruth Negga’s spot-on vocal portrayal.

Poly Styrene (born Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) was a half-Scottish, half-Somali teenager, known for her thick dental braces and vintage clothes, who built a home for herself in the punk movement with her band, watched as it crumbled around her, then tried over and over to build new homes of different kinds, before her death from cancer at just 53.

Fame, music, feminism, mental health, religion, trauma, life and death are all reflected through the kaleidoscope of Poly Styrene’s life. Whole-heartedly recommended for anyone who loves Poly, music, or indeed anything at all – it’s all here.

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché is currently available on demand at Fantasia Film Festival ’21. Trailer below:

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