Hot Docs Review: Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliche (Paul Sng, Celeste Bell, 2021)


Far from being your typical rock doc, Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché takes the viewer on a much deeper and more personal journey than is often standard for this type of film. This personal touch comes courtesy of co-director Celeste Bell, who just so happens to be the daughter of Poly Styrene herself. As such, this is as much Bell’s story as it is her mother’s, with many of the film’s memorable moments coming through in Bell’s reflections upon Poly Styrene’s life and her legacy as both a performer and a mother.

And what a legacy – if Poly Styrene (born Marion Joan Elliott-Said) were only known for her part in creating X-Ray Spex’s punk classic “Oh Bondage Up Yours!”, her place in music history would be guaranteed. But as the film demonstrates, there was so much more to her than that. As Bell puts it early on in the film, “I think my mum got to the point where she said ‘I’m gonna carve out my own place in the world.’ And you know what? She did.”

Indeed she did.

Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché is screening now as part of Hot Docs.

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs