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‘Get On Up’ Film Review

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By Lucas Berry

Get On Up is Tate Taylor’s biopic drama of the late James Brown. The film charts Brown’s rise to fame, from his complex and impoverished childhood to god-like status in music. While demonstrating the large body of music Brown was responsible for, the film does not condense the rich tapestry of his character and lifestyle. It is not without its drama, nor is it afraid to tackle issues such as relationship problems, the Vietnam War and the oppression of black Americans in the early 20th century.

Chadwick Boseman portrays Brown with such energy and precision that the audience are convinced this is ‘the hardest working man in music’. With accurate costume and phenomenal detail in setting and styling, most of the choppy scenes are strung together nicely. Shifting rapidly between tenses, the movie is presented as a detailed timeline of events which helps signify fame’s evolution, along with the ascent of man himself. Boseman moves and mimes to all the greatest Brown numbers with intricate replication, sheer energy and accurate timing. With the permission to use all James Brown tracks, the movie flourishes, making use of these as a fantastic narrative tool throughout.

However with biopics, we as the audience have a tendency to lose ourselves in the story as we are invited to fantasise; the underlying issue is truth or entertainment, fact or fiction. Should this really matter when we are consuming the lifestyle of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, there is bound to be some embellishments. Immensely influential and truly the godfather of soul James Brown is still one of the most sampled artists of all time. This is not a ‘rags to riches’ tale but a documentation of a firm belief in soul. Get On Up will take you to the top and make you move, whether you want to or not.

Lucas Berry is a second year student studying English and Creative Writing. He enjoys poetry, music and fashion, you can find him on twitter @lukie1960

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