Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Mystify: Michael Hutchence REVIEW
Directed by Richard Lowenstein
I’ve always had a soft spot for INXS.
Not so much for their music – I’ve only ever owned the brilliant Nile Rodgers-produced 12-inch single of ‘Original Sin.’ But rather for their longevity and commitment – both to their art, and each other.
Touring – Lots of Touring…
Richard Lowenstein, the director of Mystify: Michael Hutchence, made over a dozen videos for the band, including those for ‘Listen Like Thieves’ and ‘New Sensation,’ He also directed Hutchence in the feature film Dogs In Space. Suffice to say, Lowenstein got to know Hutchence very well. And they became fast friends. Which goes some way to explain why this film is so damned good: the director knew his subject and the personal highs and lows he experienced.
Kylie and Michael
One evening in Copenhagen in 1992 the two of them were cycling around the city when Hutchence became involved in an altercation with a taxi driver. This culminated in him being knocked to the pavement, where he banged his head so hard he became unconscious. With blood trickling out of his mouth and ears.
When he woke up in hospital he was uncharacteristically aggressive, refusing medical help and discharging himself. He had permanently lost his sense of smell. And developed a “dark and very angry side of himself.” Christensen tried to support him through this dark period. But became tired of his many mood swings. The two parted ways in 1995.
Hutchence began an affair with television presenter Paula Yates. She was married to one-hit-wonder Bob Geldof, with whom she had three children. Michael had first experienced paparazzi when dating Kylie Minogue. But nothing had prepared him for the intense scrutiny they all came under as Yates and Geldof went through divorce procedures. Which were finalised in May 1996. A few months later, on July 22, Yates gave birth to Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence, Michael’s first and only child.
The 1997 “20th Anniversary Tour” took INXS back to Australia in November that year. Paula and the children were due to join Michael in Sydney. But she called him early on the morning of November 22 at his Ritz Carlton Hotel location, to let him know that they wouldn’t be coming. Because the Geldof girls’ custody hearing had been postponed, til mid-December.
A hotel maid found Michael’s body in his room later that morning. The coroner found that Hutchence had committed suicide by hanging. The 20 year ride of the charismatic frontman of INXS had come to an untimely end.
Mystify: Michael Hutchence Review – conclusion
Director Richard Lowenstein has done a near-perfect job of documenting the Michael Hutchence story. Being a personal friend of the artist allows him access to the people closest to him. And he had so much footage that it took him 18 months to edit the film.
He treats his subject with the deference he deserves. In someone else’s hands, this could have been a sensational sex and drugs and rock and roll expose. Instead, we get a real understanding of what made Michael Hutchence tick; and a remarkable story of the man who fronted a band that formed as high school kids, one that kept the same band members for 20 years.
Mystify: Michael Hutchence is a film which will not only appeal to fans of Hutchence and INXS, but to anybody interested in the human story. A success on all levels.