Intimate Look At INXS Singer

A dynamic singer and one of the best frontmen in Rock during the 1980s, singer Michael Hutchence shocked INXS fans and the world when he took his own life in 1997. What no one knew at the time was the Australian-born rocker had suffered a brain injury in 1992 and never fully recovered, suffering bouts of depression and other mental health issues for the remainder of his life. Mystify: Michael Hutchence deconstructs the singer’s private side, capturing the personality only friends and family knew.

Primarily relying on rare archival footage, private home videos and personal remembrances from close family and a string of girlfriends, director Richard Lowenstein crafts a personal glimpse into Michael Hutchence’s dreams and hopes.

A personal friend of the dead singer, Lowenstein focuses his biographical documentary on Michael’s family background and various relationships over the years. If you are looking for a deep dive into INXS as a band and their music, look elsewhere. This is a careful portrait of Michael Hutchence as a friend, son and lover. A shy, sensitive soul that just happened to be comfortable on stage in front of millions, the trappings of rockstar fame weighed on him. The other INXS members make appearances but Hutchence’s music is pushed to the background, outside of his brief solo excursion with the failed Max Q project.

… a captivating portrait of a sensitive soul that reached the heights of fame, only to be undone by his own poor decisions

The biggest names appearing in Mystify: Michael Hutchence include Bono, Kylie Minogue, and Helena Christensen. Hutchence dated a string of famous women during his life and they are often how Mystify approaches his life. We get intimate reflections from a number of his former girlfriends, interspersed with rare home videos and montages of still photographs.

Hutchence dated Minogue for three years when both were pop stars, ultimately breaking her heart. She can be heard reminiscing about her time with Michael and we get a candid glimpse into their private relationship. Supermodel Helena Christensen dated Hutchence for most of the early 1990s, living with him when he suffered a terrible brain injury in Paris that cost him his sense of smell and taste. By all reports, he was never the same after the incident and had walked out of the hospital, refusing treatment.

The documentary covers Hutchence’s life in largely chronological order, starting with his childhood and home life before making it big with INXS. Only mere glimpses are seen of INXS in concert. Some behind-the-scenes footage from INXS highlights their rise to global fame in the 1980s with the release of Kick and how life changed afterwards for Michael. Having become an international superstar, Michael felt constrained by the demands of making pop music and constantly touring.

The sordid end of Michael’s life with wife Paula Yates and their children ends Lowenstein’s documentary. No good answers are provided for why Michael hung himself, though it’s heavily implied the custody dispute for Paula’s children with Bob Geldof and learning his daughter Tiger couldn’t visit in Australia were ultimately responsible. Geldof had claimed Yates wasn’t a suitable mother for their children and suing for custody. Geldof eventually ended up raising all the children, including Tiger, when Yates herself died of a drug overdose in 2000.

As someone only marginally aware of Michael Hutchence before seeing this documentary, it’s a captivating portrait of a sensitive soul that reached the heights of fame, only to be undone by his own poor decisions. Lowenstein’s background in directing music videos shines through with elaborate cutting and direction.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence Blu-ray screen shot

Video

Consistently decent, but often from sources in nothing more than standard-definition resolution, Mystify provides serviceable picture quality typical of many documentaries constructed around archival footage from a pre-HD era. Released by Shout Studios in North America, the 2019 Australian Broadcasting Company production offers an adequate 2.40:1 presentation in 1080P video. Much of the never-seen-before private footage has been blown up from inferior sources, magnifying the spotty detail and erratic definition inherent in older video.

The main feature runs slightly over 102 minutes, encoded in high-bitrate AVC on a BD-50. It’s a top-notch encode that flawlessly captures the variety of textures and noise sometimes evident in the rough footage. Concert clips turn out the best, often brightly lit with fine color reproduction and a smooth contrast.

Audio

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio features a spacious mix with intelligible dialogue. Many of the audio interviews play over vintage footage clips. Surround channels are often used for ambiance and standard audience sounds in concert clips. There’s mild LFE bolstering a few scenes.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. A perfectly fine secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA track is available.

Extras

Almost an hour of additional material that didn’t make the documentary is included on the disc. These additional scenes were presumably cut for time and flow, but offer more information on Hutchence’s life and death. More or less essential viewing for his biggest fans.

The Blu-ray is coded for Region A.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence Theatrical Trailer (02:11 in HD)

  • “The Early Days” (04:02 in HD) – Michael and INXS on the band’s genesis.
  • “Acting” (13:12 in HD) – Michael on growing up for a time in Hong Kong and his own film experiences.
  • “Prague” (4:31 in HD) – Michael reflects on filming videos in the city behind the Iron Curtain.
  • “And Now Max Q” (05:16 in HD) – Michael and Ollie Olsen on the band Max Q, with never-before-seen outtakes of Michael singing “Sometimes”.
  • “Way Of The World” (05:04 in HD) – Michael appears in a restoration of Max Q’s music video.
  • “How To Make A Music Video” (09:27 in HD) – A flashback to Michael first working with Richard Lowenstein and their relationship.
  • “Motorcycle Baby” (03:27 in HD) – Michael’s love of motorcycles with the music video “Motorcycle Baby” included.
  • “A Fish Commercial” (01:47 in HD) – Michael hated hearing INXS music in commercials.
  • “All The Lies You Find” (11:07 in HD) – Michael’s personal philosophy and reflections.
  • “Final Days” (03:21 in HD) – Remembrances from those closest to Michael on the days leading up to his death.
  • “Stuck In A Moment” (03:13 in HD) – Professor Steve Ellen provides a clinical insight into Michael’s brain injury.
  • “Absolutely No Way” (02:32 in HD) – INXS Producer Chris Thomas recounts the night he learned of Michael’s death.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Mystify: Michael Hutchence
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

A tempered peek behind the curtain of INXS singer Michael Hutchence, from his days as one of the world’s biggest rockstars, to his tragic end in 1997.

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