Directed by Gabriel Vary.
Starring Johnny Flynn, Jena Malone, Marc Maron, Anthony Flanagan, Lara Heller, Roanna Cochrane, Jorja Cadence, Brendan J. Rowland, and Olivia Carruthers.
David Bowie, two years on from his breakthrough document, embarks on his first tour of the US in 1971 – a visit that helped encourage the creation of his iconic alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.
After Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar-winning Queen-athon that proved as soon as once more the disparity that exists between business success and important response, one is likely to be forgiven for presuming the urge for food for large identify, elaborate wig-and-veneers rock’n’roll biopics had been all however happy. Maybe the one topic to tempt us again for an additional serving to, nonetheless, can be somebody like David Bowie, an artist with a seemingly chameleonic capability for reinvention whose songs and stagecraft have lengthy been celebrated for his or her imaginative and prescient, innovation and affect.
Right here, it’s Beast actor Johnny Flynn donning the faux hair and enamel, however from its first few frames, Stardust, the work of writer-director Gabriel Vary, vows to do issues just a little in a different way. “What follows is (largely) fiction” guarantees the movie’s prologue, earlier than leaping head-on right into a psychedelic opening sequence that sees Bowie trapped in a spacesuit and struggling to speak with the world round him.
As an entry level into the narrative—specializing in the years of musical limbo following the breakout success of House Oddity—it’s becoming. As a visible metaphor for a interval when a youthful Bowie was experimenting with identification and embracing his androgynous look, it’s hanging.
Equally daring is Vary and co-writer Christopher Bell’s determination to dwelling in on a reasonably unremarkable interval in Bowie’s skilled life: particularly, his disastrous first tour of the US in 1971 which noticed him unable to carry out resulting from his administration failing to acquire the required work visa. Within the context of the movie’s manufacturing obstacles—a restricted funds compounded by a failure to license any precise Bowie tracks—it’s a shrewd alternative, however one which, from the get go, threatens to go away audiences considerably underwhelmed.
And, positive sufficient, Stardust by no means fairly delivers on the intrigue of its preliminary pledge, nor does it keep the identical astute resourcefulness exhibited by its narrative focus. Had Vary and Bell opted to play issues rather less secure, nonetheless, the movie’s greatest hindrance may effectively have change into its most interesting asset: a possibility to propel the story past a paint-by-numbers biopic that so usually seems like a self-congratulatory train in biggest hits box-checking. Sadly, even with out the songs of its topic, Stardust, save for a handful of glowing moments, largely refrains from diverging an excessive amount of from the standard method.
Flynn, to his credit score, does his greatest with what finally manifests as a well-recognized story a couple of down-on-his-luck musician grappling with existential dilemmas round identification. And maybe herein lies the movie’s greatest disappointment: that it hardly ever seems like a Bowie movie. The truth is, Stardust works extra efficiently as a buddy highway film, albeit a reasonably generic one, the place previous revelations about its protagonist’s household are poignantly drip-fed to us in tandem together with his journey to turning into somebody new.
Elsewhere, there are good turns from comic Marc Maron, enjoying optimistic publicist Ron Oberman, in addition to from Jenna Malone as Angie, Bowie’s first spouse, in a criminally fleeting function. However, by and huge, Stardust by no means fairly shakes the sensation of one thing unrefined; one thing that continues to be unfinished. The makings of one thing extra intriguing are definitely there, hidden beneath the timidness, however Stardust doesn’t appear daring sufficient to search around for them.
“Posterity,” one character states early on, “It means future generations are going to look again on it as a chunk of seminal work”. On this exhibiting, that sentiment appears unlikely to increase to the film itself.
Flickering Delusion Ranking – Movie: ★ ★ ★ / Film: ★ ★
George Nash is a contract movie journalist. Comply with him on Twitter via @_Whatsthemotive for film musings, puns and cereal chatter.
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