Stardust Review – Insightful, Riveting, Excellent Story Driven Performances

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Stardust, from IFC Films, presents the prelude to David Bowie's superstardom when he knew innately what future awaited him and found a fellow believer in Mercury Records publicist Ron Oberman, who struggles as the barely known artist repeatedly fails.

The film opens with a psychedelic sequence to the tune of "Major Tom Space Oddity" bright laser lights fill the screen and a space man is whispering "Can you hear me?" David Bowie, played by Johnny Flynn, wakes up and we see he is on a flight landing at Washington Dulles Airport.


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Making his way to Immigration, he looks every bit the washed-up druggie, lunatic a British import five year too late. As his papers are not in order, no visa, no green card, he is detained. Finally, his manager in London manages to persuade the Yanks that Bowie poses no threat and he really is a musician on tour.

The film returns to London at this point with the prelude to the current immigration situation. Now we see Bowie, still in London expecting big news from his second album, "The Man who Sold The World," when they meet with his manager, Bowie and his equally eccentric wife, Angie, played by Jena Malone, we find out the record sank and Mercury Records, his label, explains the album is challenging and they can't move it.

This is where we learn that only one person at Mercury Records, a Publicist Ron Oberman, played by Marc Maron, believes in him. Determined, Bowie explains he must tour America, he must be known. The manager comes back and explains he has the ultimate power of persuasion and he is booked on a solo tour.


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Waiting for that bold red-carpet American style, Bowie walks through an empty airport to arrivals. Expecting a writing limo, he is picked up by Oberman, who takes him to his home for dinner where the conversation finally zeros in on the reality of the next couple of weeks.

So, the two are on the road in 1971. Not media ready, 24-year-old David Bowie, who has already charted embarks on his first road trip to America with Mercury Records publicist Ron Oberman only to be met with a world not yet ready for him.

To see him bomb every interview, even with his publicity present, one wonders how he ever survived and became the rock icon that he did. A mousy, effeminate, guy, who initially studied pantomime, Bowie brought the experimental 1960 London fashion statement with him when American audiences just were not ready for the man dress and platform heel shoes.


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With the last leg of what initially was through of as a total failure, Bowie and Oberman attend a party of an RCA exec, who asks him why he isn't a big star yet? A five-minute conversation changed the course of his entire career and even as he left America feeling wounded and a failure, that one night in the Hollywood Hills changed everything.

The film often moves back and forth between the US and London, as David confronts his demons and ghosts. We also find out he has a history of schizophrenia in his family and is desperately fearful of it overpowering him as it has done to his brother and three aunts.

Before the American tour he refused to walk inside the asylum his brother Terry, played by Derek Moran, lived in fearful that it may trigger a latent mental illness and destroy his own plans for his future.

Stardust offers a glimpse behind the curtain of the moments that inspired the creation of Bowie's first and most memorable alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, capturing the turning point that cemented his career as one of the world's greatest cultural icons.


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Stardust does more than present the prelude to an icon, it provides hope to the hopeless who see their future while others are short sighted and see only now. Bowie refused to allow his demons to control him and they were lurking, and the film doesn't shy away from including those moments.

Stardust is captivating, emotive, and affecting. Showing at the Denver Film Festival, it can be seen through November3, 2020 via this link.

RUNTIME - 109 minutes

DIRECTOR - Gabriel Range

SCREENWRITER- Christopher Bell, Gabriel Range

PRODUCER - Matt Code, Nick Taussig, Paul Van Carter

CAST - Jena Malone, Johnny Flynn, Marc Maron, Anthony Flanagan, Aaron Poole, Jimmy Star

CINEMATOGRAPHER - Nicholas D. Knowland

EDITOR - Chris Gill

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