Blu-ray Review: Mystify: Michael Hutchence | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, May 31st, 2020  

Mystify: Michael Hutchence

Studio: Shout! Factory

Mar 30, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In the late 1980s, Australian pop-rockers INXS were one of the biggest bands on the globe. Even if you weren’t one of the probably one in three people on the planet who owned Kick on cassette tape, you’ll know the hits: “Need You Tonight,” “What You Need,” “New Sensation,” and “Never Tear Us Apart.” And, if you know anything about the band’s longtime lead singer, Michael Hutchence, there’s a sad chance it’s probably to do with his suicide in 1997. Mystify: Michael Hutchence is a new documentary that traces his unusual childhood through the entirety of his adult life which was seemingly spent on a nonstop world tour. It explores why a man with seemingly everything going for him would take his own life, and the reasons – untreated health problems being the chief one – make his story ever more tragic.

Mystify paints its subject’s portrait far more compellingly than your average documentary. The film is constructed entirely of archival footage – much of it home video – which gives it the incredibly intimate feel of glimpsing into someone’s private life. (Hutchence apparently was a video nut, carrying a camera on his shoulder into personal moments where many would have left theirs behind.) The doc has a complete lack of talking heads, as the singer’s friends, family, and associates reflect on his life and their shared experiences solely in voiceover, with only unobtrusive name cards reminding us of who is speaking. Adding to the intimacy is just who is speaking: all of the most enlightening stories about our subject are recounted by his former lovers. Hutchence appears to have spent his life moving from one intensely committed relationship into the next, thus his myriad partners are better able to trace his story than any others. Mystify moves in a particularly cinematic way, often tying one moment to the next thematically rather than chronologically.

This is all to say that Mystify: Michael Hutchence is a very well-crafted documentary; one we’d recommend to any fan of music biographies, and not just the die-hard INXS fans. For those fans, though, the Blu-ray is especially a must-grab, overflowing with featurettes built from the footage and outtakes that didn’t make the main feature. There are a dozen mini-docs for the devpted fans to dig through, which follow diverging trails only briefly touched on in the film. Altogether, this disc won't disappoint fans of any dedication level.  



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