Stardust Trailer

David Bowie passed away nearly five years ago after giving us a life full of incredible music, mesmerizing style, and endless inspiration. He’s a legend who deserves the ultimate biopic about his life and career. Unfortunately, the upcoming movie Stardust starring Johnny Flynn as the iconic recording artist doesn’t look like the kind of cinematic tribute that fans are waiting for.

The first Stardust trailer has arrived, and it looks like it’s desperately trying to be Bohemian Rhapsody, but with a much smaller window into David Bowie’s life and absolutely zero songs from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, or any of his albums from over the years. Considering the movie seems to be leading to the creation of his famous persona, that feels like a problem.

Stardust Trailer

Right off the bat, this movie is on shaky ground, because Johnny Flynn looks nothing like David Bowie. Sure, there have been plenty of biopics where the actor playing a real person doesn’t actually resemble them, but this is one of the most egregious examples we’ve seen in a long time. They might as well have gotten Kevin James to play David Bowie.

Beyond that, this looks like cliche after cliche. Bowie is misunderstood. Record companies are perplexed by his demeanor and don’t like his music. But there’s one person who believes in Bowie, and they’ll rely on each other to make it through this pivotal part in his career.

The only problem is that we don’t get to hear the music that makes up Bowie’s career. That’s because Stardust was made without any of the rights to Bowie’s music. You won’t hear any Ziggy Stardust songs, and even the songs on “The Man Who Sold the World,” the album that Bowie is meant to be promoting in the movie, won’t be featured. Bowie’s family and estate were involved in the making of the movie either. So what’s the point?

Back when this revelation was made in February of 2019, producer Paul Van Carter said:

“We would like to clarify that this film is not a biopic, it is a moment in time film at a turning point in David’s life, and is not reliant on Bowie’s music. Our original press release did state this. Much like Nowhere Boy for [John] Lennon, Control for Joy Division, the production uses period music and songs that Bowie covered, but not his original tracks. The film was written as an ‘origins story’ about the beginning of David’s journey as he invented his Ziggy Stardust character, and focuses on the character study of the artist, as opposed to a hits driven ‘music’ biopic.”

Nowhere Boy is actually a solid movie about John Lennon starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but it also focuses on his life before he and The Beatles became a global sensation, so the movie didn’t require any of their trademark tunes. Meanwhile, Stardust is a movie where Bowie is in the middle of his career and promoting his third studio album. So not having any of is music feels like a bust.

Stardust is directed by Gabriel Range, whose claim to fame is directing the faux documentary Death of a President, which imagined a criminal investigation that followed the fictional assassination of George W. Bush. Here’s the official synopsis

David Bowie is one of the most seminal legends in music history; but who was the man behind the many faces? In 1971, a 24-year-old fledgling David Bowie (Johnny Flynn) is sent to America to promote his newest record, The Man Who Sold the World. Leaving behind his pregnant wife Angie (Jena Malone), Bowie and his band embark on a makeshift coast-to-coast promotional tour with struggling Mercury Records publicist Rob Oberman (Marc Maron).

Stardust opens in select theaters and on VOD starting November 25, 2020.

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