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Becoming Bond

Becoming Bond (2017) -

This is a funny, touching and inspiring "this is your life" documentary about the man who famously played James Bond only once: George Lazenby. The Australian car salesman turned model turned actor tells his extraordinary story from his humble beginnings to what happened after his 1969 movie came out while performers reenact his words. It results in a movie that is part underdog story, part bittersweet romance and part swinging sex comedy. There is even some Catch Me if You Can-style implausibility thrown in for good measure.

Despite the title and poster, only the last third of the movie has much to do with the James Bond franchise. Even so, I can't imagine even die-hard Bond fans being disappointed with this story of how an unknown landed such a plum role. It's one that defies the odds so much, you will wonder if it was made up (and so does the interviewer, I might add, who interrupts the movie to ask George, "is that true?") You see it in baby George’s fight with a rare kidney condition that causes most sufferers to not live past their teens, becoming a successful car salesman despite not graduating high school, and especially the centerpiece of the movie, his tumultuous romance with the way above his station Belinda. Josh Lawson amusingly plays the adult Lazenby as the charmed man his story makes him out to be, and there are some inspired and well-timed cameos. You even get to experience the free love '60s secondhand in a way that...let's just say makes the movie only for adults in the best way.

So, why did George only play James Bond once? I'll just say the reason is true to his character, the movie leaves room for debate about it, and most importantly, it makes you understand why. You also get living proof that you should not consider your birthplace, past, social class, etc. as roadblocks in the way of getting what you want out of life. Did George have advantages many of us do not have, and if everything he says is accurate, did he take the left hand path here and there? Perhaps, but what he demonstrates still holds true. The movie also proves that he deserves to be treated as more than just a punchline.