A mini-series/telemovie about INXS was probably never going to be great, but Never Tear Us Apart ends up being this awkward combination of astoundingly misjudged moments amongst surprising glimmers of goodness.
Let’s talk the good stuff: the casting of the band was well done; Luke Arnold is too young and pretty for Michael Hutchence, but he does a decent job. Dewey Crowe Damon Herriman is unrecognisable as the band’s smarmy manager, but the real highlight is Alex Williams as Kirk Pengilly, who manages to exquisitely capture the paradox of a “rock star” who’s not-so-secretly a gigantic nerd. There are a handful of great scenes: Andrew (Andrew Ryan) writing “Original Sin,” or the chilling moment when the band learns of Michael’s death.
The ugly stuff is very ugly. The choice to have the actors play their characters as talking heads, documentary-style, is just inexplicable. The writing is regularly awful – “This is about infidelity, Michael. OF YOUR HEART!” – and the second half flounders where the first one succeeded as Underbelly-light. The truly jarring moments stem from the choice to portray not-really-look-alikes as the celebrities (eg Bono, Kylie), without bothering to write actual characters, like a played-straight version of that scene from Walk Hard.