The new Brett Morgen documentary, Moonage Daydream, is not a revelatory David Bowie documentary but more of an art house experience.
Being a fan of David Bowie’s music does not necessarily mean that one will leave the film with a satisfying feeling. Take it from me, I’m a fan of his work but this isn’t the revelatory documentary that I thought it would be. Part of it comes off as a concert film and the rest of it is a style that would certainly be up Bowie’s wheelhouse. If you’re expecting any sort of revelatory information, that’s where people are going to be very disappointed. That Moonage Daydream is kaleidoscopic is something that would probably make the late musician proud. In terms of the film’s musical selection, Morgen saves the best songs–“Starman” and “Changes”–for the end credits. Why not earlier in the film?!?
Five years ago, Brett Morgen brought Jane to TIFF. It was an exceptional documentary on Dr. Jane Goodall. This time around, he’s back with an experimental documentary on David Bowie. This is the first officially sanctioned film approved by the Bowie estate. Maybe it was the fact that I was sitting in the second row of the IMAX screening but I can’t help but find myself wishing that I enjoyed it more. There’s no denying the effort that the filmmaker puts into the film–what with having spent four years editing the film. He has Bowie’s entire catalog at his fingertips as well as the use of the art collection. It’s fun to watch the musical performances and you might even find yourself rocking out to the music. Speaking of the music, Bowie’s work gets a new mix for 12.0, 5.0, Atmos, and 7.1/5.1.
There are some things that I found out about Bowie recently and none of it makes the film. If this film were revelatory, more audiences would learn about Bowie’s sexual relationships with minors. Yes, that was the era in which he lived but it’s still wrong. More people need to know about this statutory rape problem. Hell, I didn’t even know until it was announced for the festival.
The music is among the highlights of the visual spectacle that is Moonage Daydream but again, you’re not getting a revelatory doc that breaks new ground on David Bowie and that’s what’s so disappointing about the film. I can appreciate what Brett Morgen is going for with the film but at the same time, it just didn’t work for me.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Brett Morgen
FEATURING: David Bowie
Moonage Daydream holds its North American premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentations program. Neon will release the film on September 16, 2022. Grade: 3/5
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