Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Director: Richard Lowenstein
Lowenstein’s film ‘Mystify’ is sad. It traces Michael Hutchence from little boy in a troubled family to romantic youth, to rocketing star, to fading performer, to a man who was seen by many in the world as the spoilt pretty boy who stole the wife of the saintly Bob Geldof (Live Aid organiser) and destroyed Geldof's family … to, finally, a corpse hanging from the back of a door of a luxury Double Bay hotel suite.
I was not an INXS fan and until Richard Lowenstein’s biopic ‘Mystify’ I had not scrutinised Hutchence too much. In retrospect, with the mop of curls, a face that is almost pretty atop a body that is slim and smooth Hutchence epitomised almost every young girl’s first love; someone not too different from themselves, non-scary and with enviable eyelashes! He really was quite gorgeous. (Buffed bods and beards were definitely not a thing of the eighties)
The interviews with Hutchence’s girlfriends would appear to reinforce this first love theme of the creative boy/waif. Apparently, he fell heavily in love with all his girlfriends: Michele, Kylie, Helena, Paula et al., and they with him. So many video clips from life are inserted into 'Mystify'; presenting us with fun times in grungy, mixed households with Michele; love notes to Kylie; kisses, hugs, arm-in-arm walks with Helena in romantic European side streets ‒ the sweetest kind of memories.
Against this personality profile director Lowenstein rolls out the rise of INXS that was nothing short of meteoric. Watching the clips of Hutchence’s performances you can’t help but think that the pretty, creative boyfriend morphs easily into the perfect rock star to multitudes of screaming fans. He is lithe and sexy on stage, crooning that ‘I love your precious heart’, just one sentence amongst so many sexy and romantic lyrics ‒ Romeo and Juliet love affairs where his sultry voice declares that nothing can 'ever tear us apart'. Hutchence completely wooed the 10's of 1000's of screaming fans in those performances and, according to the documentary, many of his lyrics were inspired by the romances he was living.
Of course there is a whole lot more to the film ‘Mystify’ but it is the tragic end of Michael Hutchence’s life that pervades the film from the moment it begins.
I remember seeing the headline in 1997 and telling my father that Hutchence was dead. He commented that it seemed to be ‘a tradition’. I remember thinking that it was amazing that my dear, sweet, conservative father even knew who Michael Hutchence was, let alone had formed an impression of him from the headlines of the Yates/Geldof/Hutchence legal battles.
A terribly sad and beautiful movie.
Only at cinemas for a short time.