- Gareth Crook
Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019)
Updated: Mar 8, 2020
Everyone has a guilty pleasure right? Mine I think could be INXS. They were never really cool were they. Marketed as a boyband, probably due to Hutchence’s looks, they were more pop than rock and to a young teenage me, that wasn’t something to really identify with. That debut LP though, ‘Kick’ was, is fantastic. This isn’t a music documentary, it’s focus as the title suggests is purely Michael. A troubled man, right from an early age, an artist belying the public persona, but it’s all masked, even here, in the decadence of fame. I guess the trouble with him as a performer is he did come off as a Jagger impersonator on stage and as the bad boy tabloid stuff took over, it all became a bit of a car crash with an unlikeable character. This film goes pretty in depth though, adds some colour to those perceptions, with what’s become a familiar documentary style, pure archive footage, photo montages with voices layered over the top, all cut with the obligatory light leaks. It’s very effective though. The slog of world tours, the opportunities of fame, both positive and negative are covered, but there’s a ton of detail I had no idea of, an almost secret solo album for one. Much is made of his relationship with Kylie Minogue and it is beautifully honest and revealing. That’s not the take away here though. It’s an attack in ‘92, a fight with a taxi-driver that resulted in a serious head injury that changed him, not only losing his sense of smell and taste, but with it his fun loving nature and personality. You can see it in his eyes, it’s truly tragic and as the tabloid sponsored Paula Yates years unfolds, it becomes a very difficult watch and a damning take on the UK media. I’m not going to hold him up as a musical genius, he was just a good front man, singing indulgent pop rock. He was just a bloke though, a person like any other. We don’t allow our pop stars to have depth do we, they’re a picture on a wall, a dance move in a video, a sound bite, a sad story.