Stardust (15)

Johnny Flynn as David Bowie in Starman

Johnny Flynn as David Bowie in Starman - Credit: Paul Van Carter

Directed by Gabriel Range. Starring Johnny Flynn, Marc Maron, Jena Malone, Derek Moran and Anthony Flanagan.

VOD from January 15th.  Running time: 108 mins.

A film about a pre-fame, pre-Ziggy, David Bowie touring America, with Johnny Flynn as Bowie, sounds good. An unauthorised film about pre-Ziggy Bowie without the rights to use any of his songs – ah, maybe less so. Bowie himself refused to let Todd Haynes use any of his back catalogue for his 70s glam rock celebration, Velvet Goldmine. That though had Roxy, Bolan, Slade and the Velvets to fall back on.

For this the Bowie estate wouldn't even give Range The Laughing Gnome. In 1971, Bowie is a one-hit-wonder (Space Oddity - no, can't use that either) trying to push The Man Who Sold The World album to an audience unprepared to accept a man wearing a dress on the cover.

Johnny Flynn in Stardust

Johnny Flynn in Stardust - Credit: Paul Van Carter

Range's film sets Bowie on a comically unsuccessful road trip double act with A&R man Ron Oberman (Maron.) The performances are good and the theme that Bowie's creativity stemmed from the fear of suffering the same mental health issues as his institutionalised brother Terry (Moran) is interesting, but the film doesn't have enough to cover up its shortcoming.

And crucially, it doesn't connect this to the creation of Ziggy Stardust.

2/5 stars