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REVIEW: Mystify a moving, poignant portrayal of Michael Hutchence – the last great rock star

Michael Hutchence, leader sing of legendary Australian band INXS, has been called the last great rock star. And for good reason.

Hutchence was a superstar in the days just before the internet exploded, meaning he was always able to retain a certain air of mystery, despite his high-profile romances with some of the world’s most famous women and the constant attention of the paparazzi.

There was no Instagram feed throwing out crumbs to his adoring followers – although I do suspect he would have loved this particular platform. A place he could share his real self.

There were no fan sightings lighting up the Twitterverse, Tumblr or gossip sites within seconds of them having been taken.

Sadly, the last few years of his life were to see him move from a God-like sensual and alluring singer, adored by millions, into a broken man, plagued by depression, pain and loneliness. All this, despite finally having the family he had so craved.

But it came, as did so much of his life, at great personal cost to this shy boy who found himself the living his life in the glare of the world’s not-so-quietly judgmental eyes.

By 1997, the year of his shocking and premature death, Hutchence was a despised man, having ‘stolen’ the wife of a great man. Of course, this was nowhere near the truth of the matter, but it was what the tabloids fed the baying masses.

And it was to have devastating implications.

Richard Lowenstein, close friend and frequent INXS and Hutchence collaborator, has given us a portrait of a man who was as sweet, sensitive and genuine as he was complex and tormented.

The documentary is made up almost entirely of home footage, filmed by Hutchence himself and other close friends and family, with some clips of INXS performances throughout.

Hutchence, like many artists, viewed the camera as an extension of himself and his art. It seemed to allow him to express himself in ways he couldn’t as the INXS frontman.

Overlaid with these images are interviews with Hutchence’s friends, family, former lovers, and others who were close to him. Much of the time, the words have little to do with the images, but it works. We have a visual story told alongside a spoken story which gently weaves itself into a very poignant and powerful narrative.

While often sad, it has its lighter moments. Hutchence admits he uses his short-sightedness to his advantage and hasn’t seen an audience in 10 years. Kylie Minogue shares the sweet details of their first date in Hong Kong. Michele Bennett, talks of their carefree life together before international stardom came pounding on their share house front door.

This is a documentary told with love. With heart, with soul, with emotion. Left to a stranger, I doubt it would have been quite so moving or evocative. And it is both these things.

Even if you weren’t or aren’t an INXS or Michael Hutchence fan, you will be moved by this look at a man who, despite himself, became a global superstar but who, on the verge of a comeback and embroiled in a bitter custody battle that was not his, ultimately died alone in a hotel room.

No fingers are pointed, no judgements are made. A story has simple been told.

Where: Limited cinema release (Event Cinemas Kotara until Sunday 7 July, Hoyts Charlestown until Monday 8 July.
Release Date:  In cinemas now

Running time: 102 minutes

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Written by Sue Ellen

Copywriter. Writer. Reviewer. Coffee addict. Handbag tragic. Conspiracy tin hatter. Drama Queen.