Hunky dory

The glam-rock saga Velvet Goldmine has substance to back up its style

Only in one regard does Haynes miscalculate, and--ironically enough--it's with the music. Specifically, there's too much of it. Almost every scene has a song prominently in its back- or foreground. Fine. The logic there is obvious, and the soundtrack--featuring songs by T. Rex, Lou Reed, Roxy Music, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, and a few modern-day approximations thereof performed by the likes of Shudder to Think, Pulp, and The Venus in Furs (featuring Suede's Bernard Butler and Radiohead's Thom Yorke)--is well-chosen. But there are also a bunch of performance sequences and faux-video type situations, and while it could be argued that their lyrics sometimes serve as plot devices, they ultimately become grating. At least the last three are actively annoying; you feel the whole thing gaining momentum, only to be stopped cold by yet another sequence of Rhys-Meyers fopping around to some glam tune. It may have started as a device, but it ends by descending into mannerism.

Then again, maybe Haynes just knew his subject too well. Being blinded by one's own prettiness was no small part of the glam manifesto. If so, it's to the director's further credit that he was able to extract something meaningful from all that preening.

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