Last week we were treated to the first clip from Stardust, the David Bowie biopic directed by Gabriel Range. Set in 1971, the film focuses on Bowie’s first trip to America after the release of his 1970 album, The Man Who Sold the World. In this clip, Bowie (played by Johnny Flynn) can be seen talking to Ron Oberman (played by Marc Maron), a publicist at Mercury Records. Bowie appears apprehensive, but Oberman meets him with confidence and appears to be a big believer in Bowie’s talent. He does however admit that Bowie is a difficult one for the label to market to America audiences as the label execs don’t understand him, or care enough to.
Interestingly, Flynn’s Bowie doesn’t say that much during this 1 min 22 second clip, with most of the dialogue coming from Oberman. Instead, we see Flynn with long, shaggy, shoulder-length hair self-consciously hugging himself whilst taking drags of his cigarette. As the film takes place before Bowie has risen to icon status, the release of this clip seems to imply that we will be getting a movie that focuses on the man before he became a legend. As none of Bowie’s songs will be featured in the film (the family have refused to grant rights), perhaps this biopic will be less of a spectacle á la Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, offering a focus on plot and character development rather than showy musical numbers.
The use of this clip as a first look may also have been chosen specifically as a response to critics of Flynn’s casting, who were adamant that Flynn is too masculine to play the gender non-conforming legend. Flynn’s long hair and slim figure makes his character appear more effeminate, almost as though the director chose this clip to prove to the audience of the aptness of his casting. As this is only a short clip however, audiences will have to wait until the film is released in full to gauge whether the leading man of Stardust has accurately and fittingly portrayed Bowie throughout.
Words by Yasmin Bye