28th Mar2019

‘The Dirt’ Review (Netflix)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Machine Gun Kelly, Douglas Booth, Daniel Webber, Iwan Rheon, Alyssa Marie Stilwell, Matthew Underwood, Kathryn Morris, Vince Mattis, Courtney Dietz | Written by Amanda Adelson, Rich Wilkes | Directed by Jeff Tremaine

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The Dirt, directed by Jackass alumni Jeff Tremaine, is your ultra-conventional biopic that charts the rise, fall and ultimately rise again of cult status glam rock band Mötley Crüe. Tremaine’s film and his first outside of the realm of directing Knoxville and the likes starts as it means to go on, with poorly injected energy, a terrible introductory voiceover and deeply troubling misogynistic undertones.

If you can make it through the ten introductory minutes of The Dirt you can probably achieve anything in life. I’m serious when I say that if it doesn’t turn your stomach or make you blush, feel free to dive into A Serbian Film, In the Realm of the Senses or any of Gaspar Noe’s daunting filmography. “Graphic” is an understatement, believe me…

Yet ironically enough it’s the only sequence in the film that isn’t dampened by generic convention, it goes for it in full lavish “fuck you” to your fundamental narrative, and to Tremaine’s credit its fully justifiable with this, let’s say, insane story about four people who aren’t your typical human beings. However, the film itself never repeats such hostile animosity for its audience. Almost as if its handlers Netflix only granted the filmmakers one sequence of such a nightmare to not alienate the wider audience of potential viewers, but this is the so-called Mötley Crüe. Supposedly a thing of legend and by all intents and purposes after you’ve done a little research regarding their story, is a massive disservice and pales in comparison to their not so often pleasant experiences with each and upon others.

From that moment forward you’re left with a constant opaque experience for the rest of the running time, with a film that just wants to showcase how wild the actions are and never explore the ramifications or reasoning of such. Ultimately, you’re watching a washed out best-of with no judgement. Something that meets the standards of the band but as a piece of cinema does little to impress, similar to that of Bohemian Rhapsody released a year prior.

There is only so many times you can withstand Daniel Webber’s Vince Neil, who is rather terrific in the film but more on that later, fuck his way through everything that walks and be constantly reminded that everything is just cool and completely harmless fun. Similar things are touched upon with Machine Gun Kelly’s Tommy Lee in the case of domestic violence but is a thread that is dropped in almost the same swift and hollow manner its conveyed and executed. The moral value here is incredibly toxic. The overly misogynistic undertones and the lack of awareness it entails is deeply troubling. One isn’t expecting a by the book honest confession, but the lack of moral compass does little to give the film any weight or insight.

The overall final product is deeply saddening considering the rather decent performances all round from the cast which for the most part is rather terrific. As stated above, Daniel Webber as Vince Neil impresses with a weighted performance that entails some seriously emotionally gravitating material but the way the film is convicted in terms of filmmaking often overly embellishes the atmosphere and therefore the conviction with incredibly poor effect.

Machine Gun Kelly here is a tricky one, there is no doubt there is something here in terms of potential but with his recent underwhelming streak in his cinematic venture its all but still up in the air concerning if he has the talent or not. Ironically the same can be said for his performance. It takes some time for his character to resonate and calm without the sheer forceful engagement the film shoves down your throat but eventually is well conveyed with gravitas and terrific comedic timing.

The two Brits of the piece in Douglas Booth and Iwan Rheon as Nikki Six and Mick Mars, respectively are given opposite sides of the material at hand. Rheon is given pretty much next to nothing in terms of depth and layers, aside from one scene, yet prevails with a memorable and scene-stealing turn. Booth, on the other hand, has much of the film on his shoulders yet fails to really inject any screen presence or captivating nature surrounding his character which is full of seismic situations.

The Dirt is available on Netflix now.

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