Mystify: Michael Hutchence – Hot Docs 2019 Quickie Review

The work and influence of INXS Lead-singer Michael Hutchence, can be best described as a sonic-boom; a loud and imminent collection of songs and compositions from an exquisitely written perspective. Since his suicide in 1997, the pop music world has slowly delved into creative limbo, with some of the most influential artists from the era, unfortunately passing on at the most critical of times. With the latest doc Mystify: Michael Hutchence, which premiered at Tribeca earlier this year, the film less so questions the cause of Hutchence’s death (which was earlier promoted as the main selling point of the film), and instead capitalizes on the career of Michael’s discography, and the perilous risks in his respective relationships and work he took in order to accomplish his goals. It’s unfortunate to say however, that by taking this very broad approach, the documentary feels messy, when highlighting the life of this influential Australian figure. The end result is a kaleidoscope tribute of images and sound, that feels less somber, and more scatterbrained.

Utilizing largely archival footage, scrapped music videos/songs, and audio recordings of a select few of Michael’s closest family and friends, the film tries it’s hardest in recovering from it’s lack of focus. It may sound morbid, but the investigation of Michael’s cause of death, and the psychological toll that eventually took his life, is far more interesting than the life of excess (sex, drugs, and rock & roll) the film depicts and closely relies on. Even with the terrific editing and Dolby Atmos mix, the film largely lacks the emotional punch needed, to make Mystify: Michael Hutchence a film worth viewing, even for the most die-hard of INXS fans.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence screened at this year’s Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival, as part of the Special Presentations program. The film is currently seeking North American Distribution

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