Lawrence, the erstwhile singer songwriter of 80’s post-punk band Felt and latterly front man of the ludicrously monikered Go Kart Mozart is the eponymous subject of Paul Kelly’s Lawrence of Belgravia.
Kelly’s intentions are uncertain from the off. Whether he’s a Lawrence fan or if he’s poking fun at this somewhat pathetic, washed up musician who is desperately clinging onto the dream of fame is hard to tell. His directorial style too comes across as somewhat naïve; utilising long still shots of Lawrence’s environs to establish mood and tone just feels clichéd and a bit forced.
Lawrence meanwhile is living firmly in the past. He’s flirted with fame before, but now he’s hit rock bottom as evidenced by the spectacle of his new outfit playing out a tuneless set in a half empty pub, which is just depressing to behold.
But Lawrence is innocently deluded and doesn’t know what else to do with his life and his boast that his new band will: “Play anywhere, all danger zones” is sadly believable. It’s a wholly unsympathetic portrayal of Lawrence and at times it feels as if Kelly is making a complete mockery of his subject.
When it transpires that Lawrence has struggled with the inevitable drug problems and spends his time drifting from one bedsit to the next, Kelly undoes any sympathy one might have felt for Lawrence by then revealing that he acts as a driver for a young band, living vicariously through their music like some sort of sad dad.
That said, Lawrence is certainly an eccentric and unique character. He’s cheerfully positive and earnest about his music and his circumstances, firmly gripping onto the belief that his big break is around the corner.
Yet as the film wears on it becomes increasingly hard to ignore the obvious dichotomy of his rock and roll aspirations and the sad reality of his real life. The obvious criticisms that can be levelled at Lawrence are a naivety in believing success is tantalisingly close and a delusion that Go Kart Mozart are actually any good.
Those charges can of course be forgiven, Kelly’s almost shabby treatment of his fragile subject cannot.