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The Independent Culture
Velvet Goldmine (15)

to rent from Monday

WHERE BETTER for Todd Haynes to start his intoxicating love letter to the icons of glam rock than with flying saucers and Oscar Wilde? Dandies from outer space indeed they were and it's not hard to see which stars lie behind Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a British glam star, and his tormented American collaborator Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor). At the height of his fame, Slade stages the fake assassination of both himself and his musical alter ego, Maxwell Demon, unwittingly bringing about his own downfall.

Ten years later, a journalist, Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale), himself weaned on glam rock's illusory promise of sexual reinvention, is dispatched to discover whatever became of Brian Slade.

Told in exhilarating flashback, the film's touchstone is the ethos of glam itself. While Slade himself remains a largely anonymous character, Stuart's conversations with Slade's first manager and wife, as well as his own recollections, coalesce into a kaleidoscopic, fragmented portrait of Slade's conflicting persona. The picture of the social and cultural hangover of the early Eighties is a little ham-fisted, but Haynes throws himself headlong into a virtuoso recreation of glam rock's gaudy, outrageous allure.

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