The Heart Of Bruno Wizard


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Bruno Wizard
"Captured at a challenging point in his life, Wizard is a well-chosen subject and eminently watchable."

Bruno Wizard may not exactly be a household name but his influence on British art and music culture has been widespread. With a habit of being in the right place at the right time, he was a decade or so older than most in the punk generation, which placed him in a position where others sought him out for advice. Also standing out as one of few with his own sense of fashion, Bruno led where others followed. He wasn't the greatest singer, writer or creative artist, but he was a lynchpin, and understanding him better might shed light on what was happening in London's underground scene in the late Seventies and early Eighties.

Unfortunately, this film doesn't really seem interested in the underground. Where it drops names, it tends to concentrate on the most famous and the least interesting; yet despite this, it struggles to convey to us why this particular group of creative people was really more important than similar ones in other cities around the world. Wizard himself undercuts the notion that it was, joking about how scenesters in New York assumed he was a legend when in fact he was virtually unknown in his own country. He seems considerably more grounded than the film itself, and this is what saves it, because although his performances hint at there being much more below the surface than we really get to see, what we do see is enough to keep things interesting.

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Much more compelling than the usual fluff about who knew who, and footage of Wizard's early performances with the Rejects (later to become the Homosexuals, a guarantee that no record company would ever seek to exploit them), is the material focusing on his later life, particularly his time on the streets. Stories about homelessness always tend to focus on the same things, making assumptions about addiction, low achievement and abusive past histories. Wizard acknowledges that hostel workers were surprised to find somebody like him there, sitting in a soup kitchen in his Vivienne Westwood suit, but importantly he challenges the popular narrative and is able to articulate what the experience of homelessness is like. Most affecting are his comments on what it means to have his own home now. His love of his modest flat is clear even when he's frustrated about failed DIY attempts, even when we are literally watching paint dry.

Captured at a challenging point in his life, Wizard is a well-chosen subject and eminently watchable. Filmmaker Rasmussen is out of her depth but is technically proficient enough to provide him with a watchable platform. Whilst it would have been good to see some stronger interviewing and more examples of Wizard's creative work, this is nevertheless a film that will appeal strongly to those already familiar with him and prove enlightening to those who are not.

Reviewed on: 02 Feb 2014
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The Heart Of Bruno Wizard packshot
A documentary portrait of the London punk musician and artist.

Director: Elisabeth Rasmussen

Writer: Elisabeth Rasmussen

Starring: Bruno Wizard, Stephen Jones, Don Letts

Year: 2014

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: UK


Glasgow 2014

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