Stardust review: David Bowie biopic is painfully bad

Stardust review: David Bowie biopic is painfully bad


Oh, expensive. It’s right here. The David Bowie biopic. The one we’ve all been warned about. And you actually want it wasn’t. Now, if you happen to’ve been following the narrative arc of this movie’s manufacturing, even halfheartedly, you’ll most likely have heard that Bowie’s property point-blank refused to license any of his music for it. Apparently they didn’t just like the overt references to Bowie’s sexuality or the parallel storyline regarding his elder half-brother and the supposed “insanity” within the household. Consequently there is no such thing as a “Area Oddity”. No “Life On Mars?”. No “Ziggy Stardust”. No “Younger Individuals”. No “Fame”. No nothing. And, having seen it, I can’t blame them. The household, that’s. They’re virtually definitely holding out for a star-studded Rocketman/Bohemian Rhapsody-style jukebox musical, and with good cause.

It’s not that the script is horrible. It’s simply that whereas trying to painting Bowie’s metamorphosis from gangly singer-songwriter to pansexual glam-monster – squeezing two years of Bowie’s life into 110 minutes, quite than his whole profession – what we’re left with is an inconsequential street journey. Having landed in America in 1971 intent on taking part in a brief collection of small gigs, Bowie was pressured to undertake a good shorter promotional tour of radio exhibits as a result of he had the unsuitable visa, and this transient interlude is used because the catalyst for his reinvention as Ziggy Stardust. Any informal Bowie aficionado will know, that is all true. However the street journey conjured up right here by director Gabriel Vary is stuffed with clodhopping flashbacks that includes Bowie’s virtually comically challenged brother and there are components the place, afraid you’re going to chuckle, you merely look away.

The movie actually is that unhealthy.

Not that it isn’t attainable to make an honest biopic of a musician with none music. Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Nowhere Boy is one thing of a minor masterpiece and that didn’t have a single Beatles tune in it. However it was blessed with a pitch-perfect portrayal of John Lennon by Aaron Johnson and a script that left you with a special, extra nuanced impression of the star than the one you began with.

Right here, Angie appears to be like like a Nineteen Nineties supermodel, whereas [Bowie] appears to be like like a lantern-jawed roadie

After all, the large downside with Stardust is that Johnny Flynn merely isn’t fairly sufficient to play Bowie. Bowie was all the time much more lovely than his spouse, Angie, though right here Angie (performed by Jena Malone) appears to be like like a Nineteen Nineties supermodel, whereas Flynn appears to be like like a lantern-jawed roadie. He acts like a roadie too, a camp roadie who more and more appears to be like as if he regrets answering the decision providing him the job. Positive, the chap who performs Marc Bolan (James Cade) would possibly seem like a reject from Fraggle Rock, however that’s nonetheless no excuse for Flynn to play Bowie as if he lives on Stella Avenue.

Regardless that it appears to be like prefer it was made on a reasonably skinny finances, the interval element is great, whereas the primary two minutes of the movie are actually, actually intelligent, mixing visuals from the “Area Oddity” promo clip with the psychedelic time slip from 2001: A Area Odyssey. However as quickly as Flynn opens his mouth you realize the movie is doomed. He isn’t ok, the script isn’t ok, the path isn’t ok and with out Bowie’s music the movie is nothing however a sideshow.

With out Bowie’s music the movie is nothing however a sideshow

And there’s the rub. When Bohemian Rhapsody got here out, my elder daughter wished me to take her to see it. As anybody who has seen it is aware of, the script is pretty entry stage, the narrative is fairly colour-by-numbers, however the movie is presented with a) a breakthrough efficiency from a real new expertise – Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury – and b) 20 of the world’s favorite Queen tracks.

Having spent practically two hours within the firm of Stardust – a movie that, remarkably, appears to get incrementally extra terrible the longer it lasts – it made me lengthy for a Bowie tune, any Bowie tune. Possibly not “The Laughing Gnome”, however you get my drift.

Lastly – and that is vital – when Bowie lastly morphs into Ziggy Stardust (now full with non-designer stubble, apparently), how the hell did they get the haircut unsuitable? Considered one of Bowie’s earliest and most enduring items to the Rock N Roll Corridor Of Fame, and probably the most iconic motifs in in style tradition, was the Ziggy Stardust hair. And the makers of Stardust screwed it up (with screwed-up eyes).

The movie – appalling although it’s – I can forgive. However the hair? By no means. 

Stardust is out now.

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