Friday 14 May 2010

American: The Bill Hicks Story review

American: The Bill Hicks Story (15, 107 mins)
Directors: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the age of 32. In the UK he was one of the most celebrated stand-up comics of the day, but in his homeland of America he was only really known by, well, the people in the know. The British directors of American: The Bill Hicks Story are understandably unhappy about that, and with this documentary account of his life and career, aim to go some way towards correcting that injustice. By using only archive photographs which are then cleverly animated to complement the recollections of those who knew Hicks best, it presents his rise to stardom with taste and vigour, but there’s also plenty of hilarious gig material for fans and newcomers alike. And by withholding actual interview footage of his friends and family until late in the film when his illness is first brought up, it only serves to make it even more moving. But it’s perhaps the film’s greatest triumph that it gives us a profound sense of just what his death robbed us of.

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