Worried About The Boy Review: Kissing To Be Clever

May 14, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews


It’s 80s season at the BBC at the moment. Earlier this week we had The Grumpy Guide To The 80s which reminded us of everything that was wrong about that decade. One of the things that came up was 80s fashion sense, which is probably what you’d get if you blindfolded someone, stripped them naked, covered them in superglue and dropped them into clown’s dress up box.

It’s probably the only decade where someone with Boy George’s flamboyant dress sense could really flourish in the mainstream without anyone really batting an eyelid – the line between music and fashion had never been so blurred.

Worried About The Boy explores the largely unknown past to one of pop’s most recognisable stars. When asked by his guidance counsellor what he does better than anyone else, he replies promptly, “make up?. Adrift with no direction, George leaves his suburban roots in South East London and moves the big city where he becomes a regular at the Blitz Club – a hive for those at the forefront on the burgeoning New Romantic movement.

There he meets Kirk Brandon, the lead singer of Theatre Of Hate and his first love with whom he has a turbulent affair (Brandon would later deny that he’d even had a relationship with George and unsuccessfully tried to sue him).

After approaching the legendary Malcolm McLaren, George lands a part in his fashion band Bow Wow Wow. But after failing to fit in with the other band mates, starts a new band with bassist Mikey Craig. He recruits Jon Moss as a drummer, with whom he has a brief and passionate relationship and later Roy Hay on guitar to complete Culture Club’s line-up.

Worried About The Boy
occasionally flashes forward to George’s troubled times with the British tabloid press in the recent past, who ambush him every time he steps outside his house. It’s George that comes off better in these exchanges; batting them off with sardonic one-liners and making them look more like predatory vultures armed with Dictaphones and their self-professed concern look utterly hollow.

Douglas Booth excels as Boy George whose flamboyance and charm match his acidly sharp wit and sense for the dramatic. But it’s not just face paint and frocks; Douglas plays George with a fragile sensibility which is very hard to achieve (not least beneath 12 layers of make-up). It’s a performance which is both believable and captivating.

The supporting cast are equally good and packed with familiar TV faces. There’s Marc Warren (Hustle) as Steve Strange – a slightly jaded and bitter nightclub owner but no less bitchy for it and Matthew Horne (Gavin And Stacey) as drummer and former lover Jon Moss. But particular praise has to go to The League Of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatkiss who plays Malcolm Maclaren at his weirdly eccentric best.

It’s a revealing, funny and often moving account of George’s life before he became the drug-addled wreck that that tabloids has largely painted him to be in recent years.