Film Reviews

Film Review: Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019)

Director: Richard Lowenstein

Shelley Te Haara
A film by Richard Lowenstein.

Australian Rock. INXS. Michael Hutchence.

That’s what this film is. Mystify: Michael Hutchence is aptly named after the song by INXS and was the fifth (and last) single from their album Kick. I really didn’t know what to expect when I decided to go see this film. And of course, I know INXS’ music. You may not think you do, but you probably do too. However, what the full cinema got was a heavy depiction of a man who lost who he was while trying to find himself.

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The film is a choppy timeline of Michael Hutchence’s life, though it is definitely more centred around his time with INXS. And though it is quite choppy and cuts between different footage, it is still chronological. The film uses a lot of personal footage which was shot by both him and those close to him. It was a nice way to see how he sees the world. I feel like this also help keeps the film centred around that time as it’s not super HD footage, it’s more like if I shot videos on my phone and it really makes this feel so much more personal. I think the fact that this was also made by director Richard Lowenstein who was a friend to Michael also may have been the reason this was more personal and also made this more of a memoir and diary than a “professional” film.

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Michael Hutchence and Richard Lowenstein

Amongst this footage were interviews with those close with Michael. I thought it would have been nice to see the people talking at least a few times. It was all done as voice overlay essentially, which still worked but almost felt separated at the same time. And though they touched on INXS a lot, I felt like there was a lacking in INXS footage. We didn’t really get to see the performer and artist that he was, just the behind-the-scenes. This is definitely more about Michael than anything. It is a deep journey through moments in his life and I felt like I learned a lot more about him and though I couldn’t say I knew him, I can say I understand.

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Michael's life may have been successful but it took its toll. There’s somewhat of a discomfort as you move further through the documentary, experience what happened around the "punching incident" and learn more about what was going on with him before his death.

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The death is essentially the end of the film and though there are still memories playing through I still somewhat felt a real heaviness as you felt like you learned so much about this man and then he was gone. It really does give you a bit of an insight into the musician's lifestyle, with both the highs and the lows. If you’re a fan of Michael, INXS or even just music biographies I think you will enjoy this film.

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RIP Michael Kelland John Hutchence
(22 January 1960 – 22 November 1997)

Written By: Shelley Te Haara