Review: Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019)


Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019)

Director: Richard Lowenstein | 108 minutes | documentary, music

What do we actually know about the death of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence in 1997? That it was official suicide by hanging. A depressed rock star, something with sex addiction. Incomprehensible to the layman, someone who was described as “most sexy man on earth”, and who seemed to enjoy it to the full in successive relationships with Kylie Minogue, Helena Christensen, and Paula Yates. He was suddenly dead.

Hutchence is dissected by many intimates into “MYSTIFY”, a documentary named after an INXS song that is the middle between exposing and mystifying because human memory simply disguises. There is talk of a photo model as a mother, a divorce, changeable contacts with parents, brothers, and sisters, but nobody really puts their finger on the sore spot.

Michael was a sensitive boy who was completely absorbed in things he loved. On stage, he became a reptile, and his personality seemed to coincide with his image. A charismatic pleasure seeker who meant no harm. That’s what all respondents say, from band members to family members and loved ones. Maker Richard Lowenstein incidentally directed many video clips from INXS, and can therefore also be regarded as an intimus.

No psychoanalysis, no demystification, no hero worship either. Yet there is something that this BBC documentary outperforms the average: private footage, of which especially with Minogue (circa 1990) makes an impression. We see genuinely loving people who have documented their wonder and zest for life. It is an endearing phase in the film, with a merry Minogue as a natural counterbalance to Hutchence.

Hutchence broke her heart. Later it went downhill with him, from parties in the modeling world to depression, to new love, doomed love with Paula Yates – the wife of Bob Geldof, also depressed in nature. Heroin came into Hutchence’s life and a child. That girl, Tiger Lily, was eventually adopted by Geldof after Yates also died, due to an overdose. The why questions are not answered.


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