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MOVIES: Moonage Daydream - Review

Music biopics are a dime a dozen and we’ve even had a sham of a hamfisted biopic about Bowie himself last year, with Johnny Flynn in the titular role. Stardust, that was, focused on his American tour – he couldn’t even play Bowie’s own songs. Moonage Daydream feels like an apology – by the end you’ll have forgotten that film ever existed; proving that documentaries are the best form of tribute to these great figures – with Brett Morgan very much in tune with who Bowie was in person. The film opens with a tribute to cinema – the iconic final lines from Blade Runner play out as a theory is positioned before our eyes - a bold way to start your Bowie doc if there ever was one – god is dead; so we looked elsewhere to replace him - and catapulted people like Bowie and other rockstars of his age to untouchable stardom – and the film lives up to that bold, lavish statement – eccentric as the man himself – expect convention here, you’ll be disappointed. But then it's Bowie; we shouldn't have expected anything less.

Moonage Daydream is a lengthy biopic – a creative and spiritual journey is explored here. Whilst we see the big stadium performances, live versions of Modern Love and Heroes, the film acts as an insight into his personal life for those who may not have been aware of the time – be that because they discovered Bowie late or did not keep up with the news then. It’s a spiritual journey for the artist, we see him embrace his religious nature as an eternal wanderer – and showcase his range as an artist and creator; not just an musician but an actor (one of the best character actors of his time, too, watch The Man Who Fell to Earth and thank me later), a painter and many more besides. A nomad in the art world – and arguably, one of the best to ever do it. I’m a fan, I can’t lie – how can you not be? – and Moonage Daydream captures why he was a beating heart for so many – the film interviews a girl whose sexuality is best described as “Bowie”, and the film captures the cult of personality that surrounds him. His fans are shown crying, breaking down because they waited for him to show and never got the chance to see him – those who do are elated like it’s a once in a lifetime moment, and putting Bowie on a pedestal really helps the film leave its mark.

It spends the first half showing you the idea of the man – but the second half is the man himself; the concerts get rarer and rarer as the film progresses, crossing off all the hits over its two hours and fourteen minutes runtime. You want Life on Mars? You’ve got it. Space Oddity? Of course. Starman? Duh. Yet Moonage Daydream’s length allows it to be a deep dive into its subject the way surface level biopics never truly get the chance to reach or overcome – if you saw Edgar Wright’s Sparks Brothers doc (his best film since the heyday of his Cornetto trilogy), you’ll have an idea as to what you’re letting yourself in for; or Andrew Dominik’s Once More With Feeling and This Much I Know To Be True. This is where the portrait of the musician lies; not in a biopic; not from a pretender – but the real thing. If only music docs were as popular as their counterpart.

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