Film Review: Mystify Michael Hutchence

This new documentary looks behind the image to the man that was Michael Hutchence

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For those of us who have a relationship with INXS that goes beyond holding up a scarf at Power home games, Mystify Michael Hutchence is a peek behind the curtain of one of Australia’s most iconic rock and roll icons.

Much of the music many of us have grown up with has included INXS classics like Original Sin, Need You Tonight and Never Tear Us Apart. But while Richard Lowenstein’s documentary does dive into the band’s meteoric rise from Perth pub performers to stadium stars, the majority of the film follows Hutchence himself, sharing stories from those closest to him.

Two of the most powerful commentaries are from the heartthrob’s former lovers, Pop Princess Kylie Minogue and Victoria’s Secrets supermodel Helena Christensen. While both have spoken publically in the past about their relationships with Hutchence, these recounts are perhaps the most personal and candid, especially when accompanied by video footage from home videos filmed by the front man himself.

When compared to previous documentaries detailing INXS and Hutchence’s rise to fame, including the recent two-part TV special starring Luke Arnold, Mystify is far more emotional. From explaining his rocky (to say the least!) home life with his parents and siblings, to the tumultuous relationship he shared with British TV star and Bob Geldof’s ex-wife Paula Yates, the film gives an insight into how the artist’s life seemingly unravelled following an unprovoked punch up in Denmark.

Beyond the dates and the drama, the doco also examines something that is all too familiar to those of us who watch rock-umentaries: a struggle with success. Hutchence famously pushed back against the invasiveness of the press while living in London with Yates but, as the film explains, he also fought an internal battle with guilt that made it difficult to accept his own success and to express himself creatively. It’s not an original tale for a rock star maybe, but one that still hits close to home given that he is one of Australia’s most famous sons.

If you approach the film seeking a sense of closure or a happy ending, you’ll be disappointed. That being said, Mystify does breaks down some of the mystique surrounding Hutchence, looking beyond his “Rock God” moniker to reveal a multifaceted, intensely sensitive and complex man.

Mystify opens tomorrow, July 4th at various cinemas.

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