Director: Richard Lowenstein
I was never much of a fan of INXS. When they were on the way up I was into different stuff, Hutchence was just a bit to Jaggerish and sexy for a pub rocking/prog fan and I’ll say it – they were from Sydney. Come back to Australia and they’re huge, doing Live Aid, Wembley, etc and I’m still not convinced. A band that formed in school always struck me as a bit funk lite, soul-lite, rock lite. But that Hutchence guy, he did Max Q with Ollie Olsen, acted in Dogs In Space directed by Richard Lowenstein also and there was no denying it. He was a ROCK STAR.
I moved to Sydney and was living there when he died. In fact, he died at the Ritz Carlton in Double Bay, not that far away from where I lived and his last meal (supper) was at an Indian restaurant in Edgecliffe up the road from me. The shock and grieving in their home town were palpable. Kylie flew back, Nick Cave performed at the funeral. I saw him the next night, he and Warren Ellis, I think, and he was totally morose. It was clear that this band and this man meant something for a lot of people. So when Mrs. Wells suggested we see the movie, I was keen to look further into the life of Michael Hutchence.
This was a preview to be followed by a Q and A with the Director. When the film was introduced the executive producer said whatever you may have thought Michael Hutchence was, you might change your opinion after seeing this film.
Well, he got that wrong. Michael Hutchence appears to have been exactly how I imagined and his life comes out of a chapter of a book of Rock Star Tragedies.
Shy out of place kid, dysfunctional family, bullied at school. Gets protected by a kid, hangs at his place with him and his brothers. They start a band, Michael sings and blossoms when performing. Reads books and poetry, sultry looks, intellectualish, thin, curly locks -a chick magnet. Get discovered, work themselves into the ground. Achieve success, reservations about fame. A succession of girlfriends, the solo album that upsets the band. Christ on a bike -this is rock n roll 101.
The story is constructed well – thanks to remarkable access to home movie footage, a lot of it grainy and shakey with twee ad-libbing) from family, Kylie, other girlfriends and other places. There are no interviews to the camera just for the film. Only excerpts from interviews that are relevant, frozen expressions are used very well to convey what they think was his feeling/ inner turmoil at the time. There’s not a lot about the music, the albums, etc although Chris Thomas the producer gets a lot of airtime. He really rated the band.
The standard rock n roll route to ruin deviates with his incident in Amsterdam and the resultant brain damage, loss of smell and taste and ongoing mood swings. The loss of smell was indeed ironic given his fascination with the book the Perfumer. You probably know the rest which is covered well. You could really feel the pain and turmoil combining with his inability to process stuff very well post brain damage. I hadn’t seen the footage where he presents an award to Oasis and Noel Gallagher says “has beens shouldn’t give awards to gonna be’s”. I have always liked Noel but what a c..t. “
So it ends with his death and the coroner’s report. There was a lot talk at the time as to whether he really suicided. This certainly puts paid to any doubts about that. He was all over the shop and miserable as fuck.
So at 37, we farewelled a gentle, sensitive man, longing for a happy family and family life while at the same time drawn to the big stage and the next glamorous woman. Were we robbed of a musical genius? Nope. But he was a great front man.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
INXS fans like the bloke next to us who had every record and those with a fascination for those who burn out rather than rust.