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Velvet Goldmine: Feel the Glam

 


Writer/director Todd Haynes pays surreal homage to the Seventies heyday of glitter rock and David Bowie in Velvet Goldmine, a mind-blowing whirl of nonstop music, sex and glam fashion.

Velvet Goldmine begins as a what-ever-happened-to. In this case the subject is Seventies' glitter rock star, Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who faked his death in a promotional stunt and ironically killed his career instead. In tracking down Slade, reporter Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale), a former glam follower with dark secrets and memories of his own, introduces us to the sights and sounds of British glitter rock.

Slade, we learn, began his musical career as a hippie songster. When that failed, he turned to the glam scene and glitter rock. After making a name for himself, Slade eventually hooked up with his idol, American rocker Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor). With wife (Toni Collette) in tow, Slade begins a musical and sexual partnership with Wild, which eventually leads to Slade's downfall.

Meyers, as Slade, has all the right moves, and convincingly portrays the sexual ambiguity of the day. But that special something is missing from his performance. He relies mostly on pout, makeup and clothes. Although based on David Bowie, from his spaceman turn to his blue hair, Meyer's Slade lacks the David Bowie magic.

As American rocker Curt Wild (loosely based on Iggy Pop), McGregor is another story. His Wild virtually leaps off the screen. A dead ringer for Curt Kobain, McGregor oozes raw sex and sleaze out of every pore in an amazing performance. Velvet Goldmine literally screams every time he's on screen.

Christian Bale brings great sensitivity to what could have been a throw away role. His eyes show how difficult the road back to the past can be. And Toni Collette, as Slade's wife Mandy (based on Angie Bowie), convincingly portrays the rise to the top and the fall to the bottom. Her performance is world's away from her Muriel's Wedding debut, and it's great.

At times more music video than movie, Velvet Goldmine has some terrific moments well worth your time.

Joan Fuchsman

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