New to DVD this week:
MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE
Sydney, Karlovy Vary, London, Warsaw
On the life and tragic end of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.
Presented entirely through archival video, accompanied by both archival audio recordings and new audio commentary, director Richard Lowenstein’s biography intimately reveals Hutchence’s rise from obscurity in Australia to worldwide success with INXS to his eventual death after a career downturn in a suicide that was salaciously rumored to be an auto-asphyxiation mishap. Much of this is conveyed through the various loves of his life, women he inevitably betrayed and often basically ghosted – ending things in a very passive way while simultaneously taking up with the next lover. Family members, as well as Hutchence’s own archival recordings, provide personal details, revealing how sensitive, shy Michael caught the performance bug early and fell into the role of frontman for INXS, exuding natural charisma and sexuality – taking on a role of sorts to offset his natural shyness and intellectualism, but eventually feeling trapped by the perception of being a sex symbol and not treated as a legitimate artist, even after becoming a successful international artist. Lowenstein focuses on Hutchence’s complicated, high-profile relationships with singer Kylie Minogue, model Helena Christensen, and Paula Yates, UK TV presenter and the wife of Bob Geldhof, as well as a secret American lover, who provide insight about the man and his demons. Notably, Christensen details an untreated head injury that led to mood swings and anger, which may have played a role in his 1997 suicide at the age of 37. Well assembled, the film is remarkably candid and draws the viewer in, capturing Hutchence’s charisma and sex appeal while revealing his deeper side with a very welcome personal focus.