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17. Stardust; movie review

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Title : 17. Stardust; movie review
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Cert 15
109 mins
BBFC advice: Contains strong language, sex, drug misuse

In 1982, I saw David Bowie on stage at the Ruhr Stadion in Bochum in what was then West Germany.
In my loft, I still have the poster which I whipped from a lamp-post as we were leaving the gig.
This was Bowie in his Serious Moonlight phase which is often decried by fans of his early stuff.
Presumably, they mean Ziggy Stardust or The Thin White Duke. Surely, they hadn't stretched into the Pseud's Corner of the late 60s and early 70s which is the subject of Gabriel Range's Stardust.
The movie is centred on Bowie's 1971 tour of America and weaves in his relationships with his mentally-ill brother, Terry, and pregnant wife Angie.
There are a few facts strewn into the storyline, from the bemusement of customs officers at his dress sense to the meeting with an executive from RCA Records towards the end of the tour.
But, otherwise, it is fiction.
America is portrayed as being a failure when preliminary reading would reveal the opposite to be true even though Bowie couldn't play concerts because he did not have a work permit.
Indeed, in 1972, Bowie said: "America was an incredible adrenalin trip. I got very sharp and very quick. Somehow or other I became very prolific. I wanted to write things that were more... immediate."
Also, there are a couple of dramatic moments which are inexplicably missing, including when a gun was pulled on Bowie in Houston by a homophobe.
Actually, the trip was where he formed his ideas for Ziggy Stardust and the success of the years which immediately followed.
It is very surprising, therefore, that Stardust portrays him as a dullard who refused to play ball with the media who would be so important to his future career. 
The meetings were set up by Mercury Records publicist Ron Oberman (Marc Maron) who is portrayed as constantly hitting his head against a brick wall with the singer in his attempts to promote him.
Again, cursory reading suggests this simply wasn't true.
Johnny Flynn plays Bowie as someone who was shrouded by the fear that he will be beset by the mental health issues of his brother, Terry, (Derek Moran). Meanwhile, his strength comes from his wife, Angie (Jena Malone) who is portrayed as extremely pushy.
But the most disappointing aspect of Stardust is that it doesn't include any of Bowie's amazing music. Nope, not one note.
So, here we have a fictional biopic with none of his great tunes with a lead who is a pale imitation of the great man.
Anyone hoping for an equivalent to Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman are in for a real disappointment.

Reasons to watch: It's about David Bowie
Reasons to avoid: It's mainly fiction

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit:  None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 3.5/10

Did you know? 
David Bowie changed his name so he wouldn't be confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees.

The final word. Gabriel Range: "We’ve been playful with it. Very little was written about this 1971 trip Bowie made, but there’s a lot of coverage on his consequent launch to stardom and how the trip to America shaped him. A lot of the conversations are imagined and we created composite characters for some of the roles to build an engaging narrative to wrap his world around. " Screen Daily

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