Michael Hutchence was of one of the most charismatic performers the world has known. Before his death in 1997, he and his band in INXS played to some of the biggest crowds at packed out stadia. He had relationships with a string of famous women, including Kylie Minogue, Helena Christensen and Paula Yates. The new documentary, Mystify: Michael Hutchence, includes a great deal of never-before-seen home video.
Some 30 people who knew and cared about Hutchence give interviews, providing us some understanding of his life and times. Among them are two of his long-term partners – Michele Bennett and Helena Christensen – who haven’t spoken publicly about Hutchence before. Somebody who has – but we hear more from now – is Kylie Minogue. The film shows us that Hutchence was a dichotomy. On the one hand he sought the limelight and on the other he was insecure.
His early home life was hardly conventional. His parents split and as a 14-year-old his mother took him with her to LA for a couple of years, leaving his distraught younger brother Rhett behind. As is presented here, Rhett became the “black sheep”’ and Michael the “chosen one”. Director and co-editor Richard Lowenstein presents Hutchence as a thinker who lost his way.
As insightful as this doco is, I wanted more. I wanted a greater understanding of what made him tick, what drove him to do what he did. We hear him speak frequently and more often than not in close up, but I am not convinced we learned all that much. Still, I waked away deeply saddened by what could have been for a man who had the world at his feet.
So, while Mystify: Michael Hutchence isn’t AMY – the Amy Winehouse doco and the finest music biography I’ve seen – it certainly has impact.
Director: Richard Lowenstein
Release Date: 4 July 2019 (limited)
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.