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George Michael Freedom Uncut

Critic:

Brian Penn

|

Posted on:

26 Jun 2022

Film Reviews
George Michael Freedom Uncut
Directed by:
George Michael, David Austin
Written by:
George Michael, David Austin
Starring:
George Michael, Elton John, Jean-Paul Gautier, Liam Gallagher, Naomi Campbell, James Corden
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Most years are marked by the passing of notable public figures. But 2016 was a particularly wretched year as David Bowie and Prince were among the luminaries who passed away. The darkest of years was perhaps capped by the death of George Michael on Christmas Day. This is an extended version of the film originally shown on Channel 4 and proved to be George’s final work. There are few extras that fans wouldn’t have seen before, but is a timely reminder of a monumental talent in full bloom. An honest and insightful story is punctuated by the usual trappings of pop stardom; a constant battle with his own demons and the quest for personal fulfilment and happiness.

 

A plethora of popular icons queue for airtime to pay tribute. Everyone from Elton John to Jean-Paul Gautier, Liam Gallagher and Naomi Campbell are on hand with telling observations. James Corden summed it up best when he said ‘you get the feeling he had a layer or two of skin missing, and because of that he bruised more easily and could write these amazing songs’. And there is no question he penned some of the greatest pop songs ever committed to record.

 

He enjoyed a cosy upbringing in North London and formed a band with school friend Andrew Ridgely. That band slowly morphed into the wildly successful Wham! It was the launch pad for a solo career that took him on a world tour to promote the Faith album. It made him a bone fide superstar as he nestled with Michael Jackson and Madonna. However, it also drove him to the edge of insanity as his music became a ‘controlling lover’. He found true love after a concert in Rio; Anselmo Feleppa seemed to be his soulmate but happiness sadly proved transient for George. Anselmo died of an AIDS related illness in 1993; a crushing blow compounded by the death of his mother Lesley four years later. It was a twin loss from which he never fully recovered.

 

Unlike most documentary films it is co-directed by its subject, so there can be no accusations of scandal or muckraking. His spirited legal battle with Sony and issues with his sexuality are laid bare in an almost cathartic tone. We only hear George interviewed but is still refreshingly down to earth with an infectious sense of humour. What remains is a fascinating account of a complex and flawed man who left us far too soon.

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release, Documentary