Becoming Bond (SXSW Review)

Becoming Bond is a funny and intriguing blend of documentary and reenactment based around the story of the one-time James Bond, George Lazenby. The story is told by Lazenby in interview and some parts are filled in with actors in the style of the television series “Drunk History” to add some visual comedy to these over-the-top tales. The film succeeds at both helping to clear up the rumors behind what led to Lazenby only playing the iconic role in a single film and being a kind of origin story of the man himself as he retells nearly his entire life in amazing detail and honesty. Being a Bond fan is not a prerequisite for having a blast with this film, which will be on Hulu later this year.

The film starts at Lazenby’s earliest memory of being three years old and being told that he may not make it past 12 or 13 due to some kidney problems. This ignited in him a lust for making the most of the time he would have and shirking authority and convention over enjoying his time. As the story progresses, the audience learns of his first romances, his disappointments, his early jobs, and his lucky breaks. By the time he reaches working age, George Lazenby is an extremely confident and charming gentleman, jumping from mechanic to used car salesperson to sales manager with ease and bravado. Lazenby’s search for love is ultimately what leads him to London, where his brash confidence and dashing good looks eventually find this young man with a self-described “G’day mate” accent and zero acting experience in a room with and being championed by the director of the next James Bond film.

The mix of retelling with the actors themselves in traditional reenactment style and the “Drunk History” style acting out of the scenes, wherein the actors mouth lines being delivered by the narration, adds tremendously to the stories being told in the film. While it is fun enough to watch Lazenby sit there in his interview chair and talk about things, the added flair of giving stylized visuals to his often-unbelievable stories helps keep the viewer engaged and turn up the comedy. Josh Lawson (“House of Lies”), who plays adult Lazenby in the reenactment parts is perfect at capturing the kind of honest, brazen, quick witted individual that Lazenby makes himself sound like he would have been in the 60s. It is just a real delight to have a film present its subject this way; probably the best way to tell this story.

If you have always been curious about what happened to the man who came out of nowhere, starred in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and then pretty much never did any acting again, Becoming Bond is definitely for you. If you have never seen a James Bond film and just like a crazy story being told by an old Australian man sitting in a chair, you have very specific tastes, but this film is also for you. Everyone in between, this film is for you. It is great! Just see it and be highly entertained and immediately curious to watch the Bond film with a brand new perspective on its main star.

Becoming Bond director Josh Greenbaum calls George Lazenby on the phone to answer a question during Q&A at the Vimeo Theater in the Austin Convention Center. SXSW 2017.


1 Response to “Becoming Bond (SXSW Review)”

  1. Brian White

    I’m far from being a doc fan, but I’d watch this!