The mini series / bio pic of the Australian band INXS aired the second and final episode on Channel 7 last night. As stories about musicians and rock bands go Never Tear Us Apart was not bad. These type of films are often cringeworthy with their interpretation of how things operate in the music business.
The first episode, covering INXS‘s rise to fame from a covers band called the Faris Brothers in Perth, was in many ways much more entertaining than the second part. When the band started to hit the skids, so did the film itself. Coverage of the dramatic scenes could have and should have been much better and the English accent of the actress playing Paula Geldof was a low point.
But the final scenes, leading up to Michael Hutchence suicide, did redeem the episode and what really saved it was of course the music of INXS.
It took a while to get into the first episode, as the actors playing Michael Hutchence (Luke Arnold), Tim Faris (Nick Masters) and Andrew Faris (Andrew Ryan), in their Mullet wigs, all looked so similar. It was not until you had seen them in several scenes that you could work out who was meant to be who. But once that was established the story and the fun started to take shape.
The boys refused to play covers anymore, moved back to Sydney and got a manager who, before he turned to religion, gave them their name, after watching an IXL Jam commercial. As a final act of faith, in the band, he handed them to big time music promoter Chris Murphy (played by Damon Herriman) to manage their developing popularity.
Film of the boys playing on the road to ever bigger venues, while Michael Hutchence was bedding ever more glamorous women, was interspersed with interview scenes of various members of the band.
At the end of the first episode INXS were at their peak, with their album Kick going platinum and playing Wembley stadium in London.
The second episode began with things not going so well for INXS. Their follow up album to Kick did not sell so well and they suffered at the hands of the Australian press, executing the tall poppy syndrome. The music media was bagging them for not doing enough at home and they were trying to drive a wedge between Hutchence and the band.
When the band decided to take a year off, their manager Chris Murphy made it hard for them. They explained to him how the constant touring and recording was taking it’s toll on them and Jon Faris was shown hobbling around on a walking stick, although quite why was not explained at all.
Michael Hutchence dated and dumped Kylie Minogue, played by Samantha Jade, who bore a striking resemblance to the real Kylie in some scenes, but not all of them. He then famously dated and dumped super model Helena Christensen (Mallory Jansen) for Paula Yates/Geldof (Georgina Haig). This brought down the ire of the British press upon them, not to mention that of Saint Bob Geldof.
This was around the time the mood and quality of the film dipped. Hutchence was shown taking a lot of drugs, having mood swings after he had been punched and cracking his head in Denmark and getting ever more frustrated with Bob Geldof preventing Paula moving to Sydney with her daughters.
The scenes leading up to Hutchence demise were quite moving, but this may have been more to do with knowing the final real life result, than the quality of the story or acting.
All in all I would say it was a more than passable film and there are certainly a lot worse rock bio pics you could spend your time watching.
This mini series could well see a resurgence in the popularity of INXS as the music was by far the star of this film. Their catalogue of great songs was well featured throughout.
The real surviving members of INXS will be featured on the Sunday Night show, next week on Channel 7, telling their own stories and revisiting some of their old haunts.
Of course this reminder of the passing of Michael Hutchence raises the old question of why so many in the music business pass so young. What comes first the artistic nature, or the poor life decisions? Does one fuel the other, and can you make great art without suffering yourself?
The answers are probably for people far more qualified than me, but Michael Hutchence was not the first to follow that path and check out early and he sadly will not be the last.
By Max Power