Band biopics are always iffy to me. There's a repeated story arc that runs through them, featuring humble beginnings, unbelievable success, losing everything and hitting rock bottom, then turning it all around. INXS might not have been the first band many people would have chosen for a biopic, but whether or not you're a fan of the band, the movie does the job.

I had been a fan of INXS in their heyday around the time of the album "Kick", but there was way more to the band than I ever realized. The band began in the middle of nowhere in Australia, playing random covers in dive bars until they finally caught the right eye and were able to focus on creating their own music. National success in Australia led to world-wide fame, and at one point they were arguably the biggest band in the world. Surprisingly, the Australian media attacked the band for "forgetting where they came from", and no matter what INXS said or did, things got spun against them.

The film was shot in a semi-documentary style, which walked the line from comfortable to awkward. Some live concert footage was spliced with close-ups of the actors playing their instruments, which worked pretty well. The occasional awkwardness arose when the actors would do the "behind-the-scenes" testimonials, talking to a camera crew about how it felt to get signed to a label, or to find out they were touring America, or how they were dealing with fame. I understand it would have been jarring to intercut actual interviews with the real band members, but it still felt a bit odd to have actors doing what were supposed to be unscripted interviews.

I was really impressed with the cast in general. They were actually really good at looking like musicians. I don't know how many of the actors had musical backgrounds, but lots of music biopics suffer from having to use closeups of an actor's face, then cut to a closeup of their hands playing guitar, making it evident that it's not really them performing. This cast did a great job of looking like rockstars, from the hair and clothes to the way they walked around stage and played their instruments.

I noticed a lot of parallels to The Doors. That may sound a bit blasphemous, but hear me out. The Doors were talented musicians with a frontman that they could barely keep up with. INXS followed the same path. Jim Morrison was a deep-voiced singer with long shaggy brown hair, leather pants, liked to be shirtless, women flocked to him; Michael Hutchence was the same. Jim Morrison finally succumbed to the drugs and the booze and maybe some mental issues, dying way too young. Michael Hutchence battled those same demons, and though he wasn't as young as Morrison, still left us too soon.

When Michael Hutchence died, there was no TMZ, no Gawker, nothing like that, so I had only cursory knowledge of what had happened. Everyone knew the rumors surrounding his death, but this movie shed new light for me. I get that a movie produced by the members of INXS would downplay the sordid details, but the events that led to his death made me think that the scandalous aspect may have been blown out of proportion. Hutchence had many demons, and as much as he was trying to be happy, everything around him was wearing him down. He was fighting for the woman he loved, his daughter, his band, and in the end it just turned out to be too much.




On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Never Tear Us Apart" gets a 7 out of 10.


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