Brett Morgen nails it again!
Morgen's previous certified hits include Jane, The Kid Stays in the Picture, and most famously, Cobain: Montage of Heck. The former, a project awarded to him mostly by the merits of his fanboy enthusiasm, surely launched him into this equally ambitious project of encapsulating the decades-long career of a modern-day mythic figure into a single film.
Morgen's portrait of David Bowie, Moonage Daydream, is painted with psychedelic strokes in a loose, impressionist manner. This isn't a traditional documentary wherein the subject is seated primly opposite the camera and explains the circumstances of his life, play-by-play over Ken Burns — edited images of his childhood, exclusively. Nor is it a classic post-mortem featuring his closest friends offering heartwarming anecdotes and carefully curated tales of inexplicably flattering rock star debauchery. Instead, Morgen shows Bowie as Bowie via Bowie in all his incarnations.
With the exception of a few questions for context from interviewers and a collage of pop culture soundbites, we are treated to Bowie offering insight into himself in his own words. David Jones enthusiasts are likely already familiar with his discography, various personalities, and antics, and they need not fear a rehash of the same topics. The viewer is encouraged to piece together their own interpretations of Bowie's life, as lesser-known songs, interviews, performances, and paintings are juxtaposed against relevant media snippets. Was this song a reaction to that pop culture event? Did he write this lyric to address this personal issue? Or is the personal-sounding issue a metaphor for some broader timeless experience?
Morgen treats the audience to the wonderful, relatable alien of Bowie's personality, both on and off stage. Where the distinction ends is really up to the viewer, but the effect is the same. Moonage Daydream is a bright, intelligent and fully human portrait of a man who made a myth of himself.