In Stardust, Johnny Flynn is a tuneless insult to David Bowies memory – The Telegraph

A whirl of live gigs, broadcast efficiencies and crowd-pleasing singalongs, maybe punctuated with a little exploratory crucial noodling that playfully foreshadows still higher hits to come? Alas, theres been an issue with his work visa, so while the singer remains on US soil, he wont be playing a note of his own work.

A whole 17 minutes of Stardust has actually elapsed before the film guiltily shows its hand. Its 1971, and the young David Bowie (Johnny Flynn) has flown to America to plug his newest album, The Man Who Sold the World, in the hope of providing his stalled but promising profession a transatlantic increase.

This turns out to be less of a plot twist than a sheepish workaround: the film itself is likewise brief on the required authorizations, having been denied authorization to utilize Bowies tunes by the artists estate. (Even a brief shot of whats implied to be The Man Who Sold The Worlds US sleeve shows a cartoonish knock-off.).

Nonetheless, off the pair head on their mostly apocryphal promotional trip, throughout which the press agent tries to protect his typically hesitant and incredibly elusive client some high-profile media looks, the holy grail of which is a cover piece with Rolling Stone..

Meanwhile, David frets about his familys history of schizophrenia– there are flashbacks to gos to with his institutionalised older half-brother Terry (Derek Moran)– and questions if his own thirst for stardom might be an early manifestation of some preordained descent into madness. On the 4 or 5 celebrations he does get a guitar, its to play a cover version of another persons work, most especially English-language variations of Jacques Brels Amsterdam and My Death, which Bowie himself carried out at the time. Along the way, drugs are taken, gowns worn and extramarital relations devoted, though none of it looks especially transgressive, or stunning, or fun, or anything else.

Dir: Gabriel Range. Cast: Johnny Flynn, Marc Maron, Jena Malone, Derek Moran, Anthony Flanagan. 15 cert, 109 mins.

15 cert, 109 mins.

David stresses about his familys history of schizophrenia– there are flashbacks to visits with his institutionalised older half-brother Terry (Derek Moran)– and wonders if his own thirst for fame might be an early symptom of some preordained descent into madness. On the 4 or 5 occasions he does select up a guitar, its to play a cover variation of someone elses work, most notably English-language variations of Jacques Brels Amsterdam and My Death, which Bowie himself performed at the time.

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