Named after one Australian band INXS’s biggest hits, ‘Mystify: Michael Hutchence’ is a sensitive documentary into the life and times of the band’s lead singer, Michael Hutchence. Featuring newly found private home video and archival footage, it rightly joins the likes of ‘Amy’ and ‘Senna’ in pulling back the veil on a very public demise whose roots lie in more undisclosed causes…
...a genuinely sensitive portrait of a wing-clipped Icarus who only had a bed of nails to land upon.
The first thing that hits you about ‘Mystify’ is the sound. With a Warren Ellis score that audibly leaps off the screen, this is a documentary whose sound will envelop your senses even in the most modest of cinemas. However, at its centre are the memories of a magnetically-charged boy who’d struggle with the identity that awaited him.
Shy to the point of being introverted, the young Michael Hutchence found much more than a voice on stage. Joining his childhood friends in the band INXS and clearly influenced by the sexualised preenings of Mick Jagger, Michael Hutchence’s palpable vulnerability became a major part of his appeal.
Having watched his father, young Michael had learnt well that there’s no greater aphrodisiac than being listened to. Couple this and a Dorian Gray-like ability to shake off the familiar excesses of rock stardom, and it seemed that the party would never end. However every fairytale carries a sting in its tale, and for a talent so uncomfortable with his own company, the world he invited in would eventually want more than just a single piece of him.
In peeling back the headlines and the sensation, Richard Lowenstein’s documentary rewards by unearthing the causes of Michael Hutchence’s fall, rather than judging its lurid manner. With the perfume of success robbed from him, ‘Mystify’ becomes a genuinely sensitive portrait of a wing-clipped Icarus who only had a bed of nails to land upon.