Mystify: Michael Hutchence

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Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Mystify, Michael Hutchence film poster.jpeg
Cinema release poster
Directed byRichard Lowenstein
Produced by
Written byRichard Lowenstein
StarringMichael Hutchence
(See below)
Music byWarren Ellis
CinematographyAndrew de Groot
Edited by
  • Richard Lowenstein
  • Lynn-Maree Milburn
  • Tayler Martin
Production
company
Distributed by
Release date
  • 25 April 2019 (2019-04-25) (Tribeca)
  • 4 July 2019 (2019-07-04) (Australia)
Running time
102 minutes[3]
Country
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom[4]
LanguageEnglish
Box officeUS$713,757[5] (A$1.1m Aus)[6]

Mystify: Michael Hutchence is a 2019 documentary film about the life of musician, actor and singer-songwriter Michael Hutchence, lead vocalist of the Australian rock band INXS. It is written and directed by Richard Lowenstein and relies primarily on rare archive footage, outtakes, private home video and audio commentary provided by friends, ex-partners, band members, record producers and family. An Australian-British venture, the film was co-produced by Ghost Pictures, Passion Pictures with Madman Entertainment and Dogwoof serving as distributors. It is in association with Baird Films and Film Victoria. Mystify: Michael Hutchence had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 25 April 2019, and was theatrically released in Australia on 4 July 2019.[4][7] The film is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 18 October receiving generally positive reviews from critics.

Synopsis[edit]

Mystify covers the life of INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence which features private home video and archive footage. It mentions an incident while bicycling on holiday in Copenhagen with girlfriend Helena Christensen, where Hutchence gets shoved to the ground by a taxi driver, hitting his head on the kerb losing consciousness. Included in the film are recollections with voice-overs by Kylie Minogue, Michele Bennett, from siblings Rhett and Tina Hutchence, stepmother Susie, producer Nick Launay, Bono and INXS band members, composer and keyboardist Andrew Farriss, guitarist Tim Farriss, bassist Garry Gary Beers and drummer Jon Farriss.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Plans for a biographical drama film about Michael Hutchence were being developed with a script written by Australian film-maker Richard Lowenstein. Lowenstein had previously collaborated with Hutchence in Dogs in Space and INXS music videos. The film was to feature an actor as Hutchence, however the idea of casting someone proved very difficult and with the announcement of the miniseries INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, it made the director switch to an archival documentary.[8] The documentary film gathered early development funding and support by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Screen Australia and Film Victoria.[9]

A pitch trailer was produced and shown at the 2016 Australian International Documentary Conference in Melbourne where BBC Music took interest.[9] In July 2016, it was announced that a documentary film about the singer-songwriter Michael Hutchence had the official support of INXS band members and manager Chris Murphy, with Richard Lowenstein signed on to direct.[10][11][12][13]

The director conducted the first interview (for the biopic research) in 2010 with U2 lead singer Bono who were on tour in Melbourne. Band members from INXS were then interviewed and filmed in 2011, gradually building up an archive of footage.[14][15] During the interview process, Lowenstein had decided to record just the audio, having individual interviewees in a dark recording studio. A total of around sixty people were interviewed.[16][15]

Tapes of archival footage of varying quality were found in the directors attic lost for twenty years.[15] In October 2017, long negotiations began for the rights to use INXS music in the film, but ended with no deal due to a dispute with Murphy of Petrol Records over the documentary’s ownership in return. This lead the director to produce an edit of the film with no music from the INXS catalogue.[15] Eventually, Lowenstein made contact with Hutchence’s daughter Tiger Lily in London, through Susie Hutchence’s advice. Lowenstein flew to London in October 2018 to meet. After viewing a rough cut of the film, Tiger Lily made contact with the band’s management and record company. A day later, a deal was struck to use nine INXS tracks.[15]

The post-production and supervision of the film were completed by United Finishing Artists with the sound mixing done at Soundfirm, Melbourne.[17]

Music[edit]

Composer Warren Ellis was in charge of the film's music and score.[18] The documentary features various digitally-restored tracks which were remixed by Giles Martin in Dolby Atmos supplied by INXS. Music also included are by Hutchence, Max Q with Ollie Olsen, Kylie Minogue, Nick Cave, instrumentals by Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm.[19]

The film includes tracks, such as: "Never Tear Us Apart" and "Sometimes".[20] Lowenstein stated that there has been no official soundtrack album released,[15] however, a complementary album was released on 5 July 2019 titled Mystify: A Musical Journey with Michael Hutchence.

Release[edit]

The world premiere of Mystify: Michael Hutchence took place in Manhattan at the Tribeca Film Festival on 25 April 2019, including a live Q&A session with the film’s director after the screening.[21] Over the next few months it played in festivals around Canada, Australia, Czech Republic, Germany and New Zealand, building anticipation: at the Hot Docs in Toronto, Sydney, Munich and New Zealand Film Festivals.[22][23][24][25] Advance screenings with Lowenstein in attendance for special Q&A sessions followed in June, at the Astor Theatre in Melbourne, Ritz Cinema in Sydney and the European premiere held at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.[26][27][28]

An official trailer was released on 4 June 2019 and featured the songs "Mystify" and "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS.[29][30] It was released in cinemas across Australia on 4 July and in New Zealand on 12 September through Madman Entertainment.[31]

Initially the film will be screened out of competition during the London Film Festival on 4 October 2019 at the Curzon Mayfair Cinema.[32][33] It will be given a general release in the United Kingdom on 18 October through Dogwoof and in the Netherlands by Piece of Magic entertainment on 24 October.[34][35]

Broadcast[edit]

In Australia, the documentary is scheduled to be aired in November by ABC Television.[36] In April 2019, the BBC announced the film will air on television channel BBC Two.[37]

Home media[edit]

It is set to be released in Australia on DVD and Blu-ray disc by Madman Entertainment on 20 November 2019.[38] Dogwoof will release the film in the U.K. on 9 December. Extra features include eighty-minutes of behind the scenes and theatrical trailer.[39]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

Mystify: Michael Hutchence grossed A$1.1 million (US$705,044)[40]in Australia and $8,713 in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of US$713,757.[41][42][43]

Australia[edit]

In Australia it made A$368,642 (US$257,216) from 114 screens including previews and festival screenings, in its opening weekend, finishing tenth at the box office grossing A$485,825 ($338,979) in the week ending 7 July.[44][45][43] It made another A$179,000 ($125,772) from 79 screens in its second weekend with a 51% decrease from the first week; finishing thirteenth and grossing A$761,000 ($534,167) through 11 days.[46][43] On its third weekend the film made A$83,000 ($58,678) from 55 screens finishing seventeenth grossing a total of A$893,000 (US$628,874).[47][43] After the fourth week of release, the film shown on 61 screens had a total of A$988,000 crossing the A$1 million mark before the following weekend.[48][49][50] On its ninth week at the end of August it was played on 10 screens grossing a total of A$1,141,000.[51][52]

Other territories[edit]

On its first weekend in New Zealand it made US$8,713.[53]

Critical response[edit]

Upon its premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, the film received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 100% based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 7.81/10.[54] Variety film critic Katherine Turman described it as "While Mystify in many ways amplifies the tragedy of Hutchence's death, it also goes a long way toward explaining and humanizing it."[55] In a positive review for Vogue, Laird Borrelli-Persson wrote "Mystify is proof that Hutchence was, and is, much loved. Also missed, in excess."[56] Graham Fuller of Screen International called the film a "Stand-out documentary" and wrote, "The densely woven and worshipfully presented archival footage of the INXS frontman, on stage and off, is a reminder that in terms of wild talent and Dionysian sexiness, he belongs in the same company as Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, and Robert Plant." He concludes: "What lifts it above the majority of documentaries about celebrities and artists is its extraordinary intimacy."[4] Harry Windsor, writing for the Hollywood Reporter, said: "It should prove essential viewing for the subject's fans: a tender portrait of the man's highs and lows that sheds new light on the broken years that directly preceded his suicide at 37."[57]

Leigh Paatsch writing for the Herald Sun gave the film 4/5 stars, saying: "Quite wisely, the new documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence doesn't concern itself with smoothing out all the erroneous wrinkles that have crumpled the late INXS frontman's life story over time."[58] Karl Quinn of The Age called the film Lowenstein's "slow-burning labour of love."[59] The Australian's David Stratton summed up the film as "a terrific documentary, and as complete a portrait of this talented singer as you could wish." calling it "a detailed and revealing portrait"; he rated the film four out of five stars.[60] Vicky Roach from The Daily Telegraph gave the film 3 out of 5, saying: "While it’s more visually interesting, there are times when this storytelling device results in a kind of emotional disconnect. And although they corroborate Lowenstein’s version of events, the band’s role in Hutchence’s story feels strangely under-amplified — emotionally and musically." She summed up the film as "A measured, personal, densely woven account of the man behind the myth."[61] DM Bradley, writing for the Adelaide Review, said: "Richard Lowenstein’s beautifully sad documentary study of the all-too-short life of his late friend Michael Hutchence is a most moving memorial, and rather more about the man than the music."[62]

Jim Schembri from 3AW gave the film 4 out of 5, saying: "Director Richard Lowenstein constructs a vivid, immersive portrait of Hutchence, his rise and fall, his romances and his life-altering encounters with happenstance and road rage."[63] Graeme Tuckett from Stuff.co.nz gave the film 3.5 out of 5 stars, saying: "Mystify is unapologetically one for the fans. But, seeing it as someone who thought he didn't particularly care about Hutchence's story, I was moved."[64]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
AACTA Awards December 2019 Best Documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence Nominated [65]
BFI London Film Festival 2-13 October 2019 (Grierson Award) Best feature-length documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence Nominated [66]
Tribeca Film Festival 2 May 2019 Best Documentary Feature Mystify: Michael Hutchence Nominated [67]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019)". Screen Australia. July 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  3. ^ "Mystify: Michael Hutchence". Australian Classification Board. Department of Communications and the Arts. July 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Fuller, Graham (27 April 2019). "'Mystify: Michael Hutchence': Tribeca Review". Screen International. Media Business Insight. Retrieved 2 July 2019. Cite error: The named reference "auto1" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ "Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019) - Financial Information". The Numbers. 10 September 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Australian films BO August scorecard" (PDF). If Magazine. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  7. ^ "World Premiere Mystify: Michael Hutchence Feature documentary". Tribeca Film Festival. April 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  8. ^ Adams, Cameron (30 June 2019). "'Documentary reveals new secret behind Michael Hutchence's death". Herald Sun. The Herald and Weekly Times. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  9. ^ a b Groves, Don (28 February 2019). "Australian Rock Star Michael Hutchence: Why Did He Die?". Forbes. Forbes Media Integrated Whale Media Investments. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  10. ^ Newman, Melinda (25 July 2016). "UMG and Passion Pictures Set to Produce Documentary on INXS Lead Singer Michael Hutchence: Exclusive". Billboard (magazine). Billboard-Hollywood Media Group. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  11. ^ Reed, Ryan (25 July 2016). "INXS Michael Hutchence Celebrated in Upcoming Film Doc New feature-length project will trace life and career of alt-rock band's singer/co-founder who died in 1997". Rolling Stone. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  12. ^ Barraclough, Leo (25 July 2016). "INXS Lead Singer Michael Hutchence Documentary Movie in the Works". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
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  29. ^ Reilly, Nick (4 June 2019). "Watch the first trailer for new Michael Hutchence documentary Mystify - featuring unseen footage". NME. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
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  31. ^ Tuckett, Graeme (11 September 2019). "Mystify: Doco looks at the moment that changed Michael Hutchence's life". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
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  35. ^ "Mystify: Michael Hutchence - Piece of Magic". Piece of Magic Entertainment. September 2019. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
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  58. ^ Paatsch, Leigh (4 July 2019). "Mystify neither sanctifies nor sledges Michael Hutchence". Herald Sun. The Herald and Weekly Times. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
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  65. ^ Knox, David (21 August 2019). "AACTA Awards 2019: Best Documentary nominees". Tvtonight.com.au. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  66. ^ "The Documentaries To Watch At The 2019 BFI London Film Festival". 500daysoffilm.com. 1 September 2019. Retrieved 31 August 2019.
  67. ^ "A Cinematic Celebration - Announcing the Feature film lineup for the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival". tribecafilm.com. 2 May 2019. Retrieved May 2019. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]