MYSTIFY: MICHAEL HUTCHENCE gets 5/10 Old sensation

Directed by Richard Lowenstein

Featuring Michael Hutchence, Kylie Minogue, Helena Christensen


As usual with any documentary biopic of rock stars or tortured artists, Mystify: Michael Hutchence is a not-so-varied celebratory account of the INXS frontman’s career that is far more focused on his rockstar life than his artistry and influences.

The most important and essential observation this documentary can make is on the legacy of his music. Not so much the wacky post-punk beginnings this shows invaluable footage of, when INXS began as a tonally confused Talking Heads rip-off – but seeing Hutchence and his band improve is impressively displayed here, seeing this lead man try out imitations of Mick Jagger and then Jim Morrison before he finally settled on his own confident, extroverted performance style.

But this documentary is hardly keen on where his talent, lyricism, and artistry came from, instead, it’s more in love with how other people were in love with him. Mystify spends a good portion of its time with folks (mostly the exes) talking about how great (looking) he was, without much of substance to say about him. There’s hardly much of an impression one can gather about the main man from this, whether you’re a newbie or a die-hard fan.

Luckily for the die-hard fans, he and his friends (and girlfriends) shot plenty of home footage that is put to use here. Some of it shockingly intimate. If you’ve ever dreamed about being his girlfriend as he takes your through Europe to deeply indulge in the cultures, arts, food, and, of course, sex, then Kylie Minogue reminiscing on their good times over footage of their romantic home videos across the gorgeous continent is bound to assuage your vicarious needs.

By the end of this documentary and all its participants heaping nothing but praise on the man, you get the impression Michael Hutchence was pretty much the Second Coming. An overall perfect man of handsome features, alluring presence, humble curiosities, and general openness (oh, and also a great singer and lyricist). His negative qualities such as depression and aggression are almost entirely ascribed to his head trauma incident, so this hagiography avoids any multi-faceted portrait of a man who, like any other, must’ve displayed innate qualities of strength as well as weaknesses. But Mystify is a project designed for the posthumous appraisal of this man, and this man only, for his adoring fans who hold him in some sort of deity esteem.