• Gareth Crook

Stardust (2020)

This got a slating before it was even released. I’d count myself a Bowie fan. Show me someone who isn’t and I’ll show you a tone deaf moron, but I’m not die hard like some and those who consider themselves such took offence at someone playing with their idol. This is a work of fiction, as stated at the start, perhaps as a way to deflect some of that heat. It’s a take on Bowie’s first visit to the US in the early 70s and the origins of his Ziggy persona. There’s no Bowie music. Critics take that as meaning it’s a snub by the estate and that this is playing fast and loose with the facts. I mean how dare they! But come on, calm yourselves, it’s a fucking film. It’s not claiming to be a definitive representation. If you don’t like it don’t watch it. It’s a reimagining if you like. Bowie (Johnny Flynn) was always a larger than life caricature and this certainly doesn’t look to tone that down, but it’s Bowie on his own, a little lost, perhaps in more ways than one and lacks an edge, lacks glamour. Flynn I’m afraid is not very good. I quite liked him in Emma, the last thing I saw him in, but here, well it’s all a bit pantomime and unconvincing. He’s not as bad as Mark Bolan (James Cade) though, who’s bloody awful. Thankfully he’s not on screen long. Anyway David lands in the US. America doesn’t get him, too weird, too dark, too much gender confusion. The label want to drop him, only one guy thinks he can make it, Ron Oberman (Marc Maron). I like Maron. He’s probably the reason I’m watching. I’m not gonna tell you that Maron rescues this, he doesn’t, but he looks like he’s having fun. He’s wearing a ridiculous wig... but then everyone is. He’s funny though as you’d expect and if there’s a heart to it, he’s it. Bowie’s management have screwed up, no paperwork, visas etc. mean he’s not allowed to play. A bit constricting when you’re there on a promotional tour. Instead he ends up playing vacuum cleaner conventions and pointless private parties. This is where the lack of Bowie originals does matter. Stick something in from The Man Who Sold The World, the album he’s promoting and it would undoubtably lift. Instead it doesn’t and falls into a bit of a dirge and to be fair it’s not very flattering. Obviously the story is destined to get happier as we’re finally introduced to Ziggy. Ron and Bowie are going to learn to get on better. Honestly it’s not that bad. It’s just that it’s a bit slow, a bit uneventful and a bit too bland. I can see why the Bowie obsessives would hate it, but it feels honest enough and I’ve certainly seen worse.

4/10