For most people in this country, he will always be remembered as the handsome, wild-haired rockstar who stole the heart of Paula Yates and as a result put an end to one of longest lasting celebrity marriages (Yates had until then been married to Bob Geldof). For those who really knew him, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence was so much more than that.
In his new documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence director Richard Lowenstein offers a flawed yet heartbreaking and beautifully mournful account of Hutchence’s life up until his tragic death in 1997. Having failed to secure the Rights to the band’s music earlier on in the production -the rights were later approved- the director chose to tell the story, not through his music, by through his many lovers, a device which perhaps gives the film a slightly tabloidy feel.
Talking to his nearest and dearest, including former bandmates, lovers and even his own family, Lowenstein paints a picture of an idealist who had been deeply insecure about his artistic abilities throughout his life. We soon get the fuller picture as former partners, including Kylie Minogue and Helena Christensen, speak of him as one of the most sensitive and loving people they had ever known.
While more often than not, there is a lot of frustration at the slightly problematic approach of delving into the man’s inner most secrets, there is certainly a lot here to unpack and to consider. Ultimately the film does sadly read like a series of tabloid stories, but we never really get the sense that we truly know what made the famously private, singer really tick.
There’s no denying that Mystify: Michael Hutchence is essential viewing for fans of the band, but deep down there is a nagging feeling that something essential is missing from the film. Beyond some unnecessary wild speculations, Mystify does a decent job in offering up a clear narrative arc which is more than enough to keep us hooked till the very end.