Mystify: Michael Hutchence, out next week, provides a behind-the-scenes view of the INXS frontman’s early life, rise to fame and the troubled final years.
Filmmaker Richard Lowenstein draws heavily on archive footage shot by Hutchence’s family and those close to him including Kylie Minogue to create a moving, and somewhat tragic, portrait of the late singer.
Rise and fall
INXS were a pub rock band who rose to prominence in Australia in the early 80s. A few years later they were catapulted onto the world stage largely due to the magnetic stage presence of their lead singer. Often compared to the Doors’ Jim Morrison, Hutchence was a prowling, flirtatious performer who could deliver powerful rock anthems like What You Need and lighter, emotive pop ballads like Beautiful Girl.
But as the band’s popularity faltered in the 1990s so too did Hutchence. His life unravelled (very publicly). His affair with Paula Yates, then married to Sir Bob Geldof, made him a relentless target for the paparazzi. Then there was the excruciating moment at the 1996 BRITS when Liam Gallagher publicly slated Hutchence. Gallagher’s ungracious words while collecting an award from him, “Has-beens shouldn’t be presenting awards to gonna-bes” cut deep. A year later Hutchence took his own life in a hotel room in Sydney.
Compelling new information about brain injury
All this is given a new dimension in the film when Hutchence’s former girlfriend Helena Christensen talks about the brain injury he sustained in 1992. After an altercation with a taxi driver in Copenhagen, he fractured his skull, and lost all sense of taste and smell.
By all accounts the singer was never the same again, and prone to dark moods, depression and aggression.
Singer’s musical legacy
Lowenstein, who was a close friend to Hutchence, seeks with the documentary to remind us of Michael Hutchence, the artist. This is because in much of his life and in death, Hutchence’s talents as a singer – he had a distinctive and emotive baritone voice – were often obscured by tabloid headlines.