“David Bowie: The Last Five Years,” which premiered Nov. 10 at the DOC NYC film festival, is a singular and haunting pop documentary.
It’s a companion piece to “David Bowie: Five Years,” the 2013 documentary in which director Francis Whately meditated on the pivotal period of Bowie’s fame, from 1970 to 1975. That movie dug deep into the heady fascination of the first rock star who was passionate and Warholian at the same time — an image junkie who kept rotating his look and aspect, and did it as casually as most of us change underwear.
“The Last Five Years,” also directed by Whately, was assembled under the shadow of Bowie’s death (he died on Jan. 10, 2016). It’s about a very different man: one who remained, to the end, a committed artist even as he was living as a retired pop star.
Bowie’s exit from the spotlight of celebrity happened quite suddenly on his 2004 Reality Tour. During that series of arena shows, he had never been more joyful or unironic on stage — an ageless satyr-prince, one who was now willing to just stand up and boogie, reveling in the glory of his golden years. But during one show, he collapsed and had to be helped off stage; it turned out he had suffered a minor heart attack. That’s when Bowie called it quits, withdrawing into a meditative New York existence with his wife, Iman.
“David Bowie: The Last Five Years” premieres on HBO in January.
Read the review at Variety.
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