The Man from Mo'Wax

James Lavelle played his first DJ set at 14, launched pioneering record label Mo'Wax at 18 and released the genre defining UNKLE album Psyence Fiction at 22. His phenomenally rapid rise seemed limitless, but it's only when you're going so fast that the wheels fall off. The Man from Mo’Wax tells the remarkable story of one of the most enigmatic yet influential figures in contemporary British culture. Unearthed from over 700 hours of footage including exclusive personal archive spanning three decades, we get the rare opportunity to watch a boy become a man in the world of music. The result is an exhilarating, no holds-barred ride into the life of an extraordinary man and an equally extraordinary era, taking in some decidedly flawed decision-making (both personal and professional), Lavelle emerges as an innovative artist who thinks big and consistently overcomes adversity.


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  • ★★★½ review by Matt Shiverdecker on Letterboxd

    Full review posted at:

  • ★★★★ review by grapsta on Letterboxd

    Great doco. Big fan from early Mo ' Wax right through to the GU mixes . To the guy who reviewed below asking why a lot of these music docos have the same depressing arc......well its because we all decided to steal and stream our music and killed the industry. There are human conseuences .

  • ★★★½ review by Dylan Richards on Letterboxd

    Working around the label and having encounters in that scene and it's characters I found it an interesting look at when things don't go right. I wish there was more of a personal focus on substance abuse as I'm sure that was a bigger factor than what was presented.

    As often with these things the last act felt a bit cliched but I was fully in to the rest.

  • ★★★½ review by James on Letterboxd

    Previously I saw an early edit at a film festival and rated it 2.5/5. It really dragged and had some inaccuracies such as suggesting UNKLE was DJ Shadow’s project, whereas it existed prior to him joining. 

    Rewatching it now it’s a lot tighter and the third act isn’t as depressing. There’s still some weird stuff where the timeline doesn’t make sense (DJ Shadow is introduced after mentioning a bunch of events from 1995, while really he had been hanging with James Lavelle since 1993 at least), but I get they edited things to tell a story. 

    Overall very interesting, and Josh Homme steals the show.

  • ★★★★ review by Adam Lowes on Letterboxd

    The rise, fall and eventual rise again of James Lavelle, vinyl junkie turned trailblazing record label producer and creative figurehead of musical outfit UNKLE, may be an overly familiar tale of the young ingénue who succumbs to his own bloated ego and lifestyle excesses.

    But what gives The Man From Mo’Wax character and depth, lifting it above and beyond that usual portrayal of talent gone awry, is the compelling central figure. No stone is left unturned by director Matthew Jones as the film tracks Lavelle from a gangly bespectacled hip hop-fixated teen, right though to a triumphant return via his gig as curator of London’s South Bank Meltdown festival back in 2014. Unexpectedly, even Lavelle’s own mum appears throughout to offer her own perspective of his life and career.

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