September 16th, 2022
MOVIE: MOONAGE DAYDREAM
STARRING: DAVID BOWIE
DIRECTED BY: BRETT MORGEN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
When Johnny Flynn portrayed David Bowie in the seldom seen Stardust, his performance wasn’t bad, he was just attempting something that can’t be done. He was trying to capture the unique person that was David Bowie. It’s just not possible because there was only one Bowie and what director Brett Morgen does is prove that exact truth in Moonage Daydream. It’s a documentary, with archived footage, narration from Bowie, live performances, and an experience unlike any other. The goal of the documentary is not so much trying to tell the life story of the artist, but an attempt to grasp exactly what it was that made him the artist he was, dig into the mind of the man, discover the “it” factor he had, and how he continued to reinvent himself. David Bowie was one of a kind and Moonage Daydream is a beautiful ode to everything that made him unique.
To give you an idea of why and how you should watch Moonage Daydream, it’s playing in IMAX for a brief period of time, and although I watched it on my laptop, it’s obvious that it was made for the biggest screen possible. But even without that big theater experience there is a great beauty here. The production does not feel like a typical documentary, where the imagery of footage seems crystal clear, capturing the essence of Bowie, his face, his flowing hair, the various clothing choices, the makeup, and the presentation of his stardom. He was ahead of everyone, from a music standpoint, and from the angle of what it means to be true to oneself. And I truly believe that without an artist such as Bowie, the world, the way a musician expresses himself on the stage, and how it all interconnects never happens today.
From the narrative standpoint, the majority of the documentary is Bowie talking over footage of himself painting, posing for photographs, or scenes from the various movies he was in. What Morgen does in his direction is allow the editing to blend seamlessly. What may be shocking to some, and undoubtedly increases the achievement that Moonage Daydream is, but Morgen also did his own editing, which cements that Morgen saw his project through from start to finish. He made sure the life of Bowie was given the respect it deserves. Moonage Daydream is not exploiting the man, but simply presenting him for audiences to see how his life moved in waves, and had an impact on our culture no matter where he was in his career.
If there are complaints to be had it’s that Moonage Daydream does run too long and although I feel Morgen does highlight the conflicting moments in the various segments in Bowie’s life- a brief interview reveals his fractured relationship with his mother, something he rightfully wishes had been different- Morgen often keeps the deeper conflicts of Bowie at bay. We’re introduced to his relationship with Iman but it’s only through photographs and his views on relationships. That deeper and chronological look at Bowie’s life is a different movie and sadly something you would see in a biopic today.
Moonage Daydream is a majestic piece of art. It’s the type of production that is displayed in an art museum, constantly running on a screen for audiences to catch a glimpse of as they pass a full presentation on Bowie’s life. It’s the kind of documentary that you succumb to and let the style, the images, the music, and the words of David Bowie take you away into his solar system. Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. You will enter into a beautiful daydream.
MOONAGE DAYDREAM IS PLAYING IN THEATERS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2022.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady