DVD: ‘Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story’


The next best thing to seeing Eddie Izzard live is catching one of his shows on DVD. The next best thing after that may well be watching this bio-doc tracing his long struggle toward worldwide success and giving us glimpses of the man behind the fishnets but, in the end, not quite as much as we might want. Director Sarah Townsend shows Izzard taking his act round the world (including a stop at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre) and heading toward the ultimate venue for a British artist, Wembley Arena. In between, we learn that Izzard was born in Yemen, where his father worked for British Petroleum; that he has an older brother who’s barely mentioned; that his mother’s death from cancer remains a singular trauma in his life; and that his dad never had a problem with his son dressing up in women’s clothing. The film’s best parts show Izzard’s creative recklessness, his unrelenting drive to the shakiest part of every comic limb he can think of. Early in his career, that riskiness didn’t always resonate with audiences, whether at the famed Edinburgh Festival (where his college sketch group couldn’t hold a candle to the Cambridge Footlights, whose members included Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson) or elsewhere. Later, Izzard flailed around trying to make it as a performer. He was half a comic duo, but perhaps really learned to mine his own comedic terror for laughs as a street performer. After that, daring to book himself a solo gig in London’s West End was almost a piece of cake. A couple of scenes, including one where he is surprised to learn that his mother called him “Edward” instead of “Eddie,” are revealing, but the curtain parts only a bit. That may be frustrating, but we never have time to ponder it too deeply because, a second later, we’re diverted by “the wolf bit” or other features of his hit shows, and that’s enough to stifle any complaints.

Written by Momo in: Believe Reviews |

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