Velvet Goldmine (1998)

velvet goldmine poster 1998 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Fun look at glam-rock

Visuals sometimes overstep story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Velvet Goldmine

Studio:  Newmarket Capital Group

Genre(s):  Drama/Musical

Release Date(s):  November 6, 1998

MPAA Rating:  R


Let’s get glam!

It is 1984, and it has been ten years since glam-rocker Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) disappeared after being shot onstage in what was called a publicity stunt.  Now, Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) has been sent to find out whatever happened to Brian Slade while facing his own demons of his past.  Interviewing those closest to Slade like his former wife Mandy (Toni Collette), Arthur is trying to get to the core of Brian Slade, which includes his relationship to singer Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor), and discover whatever happened to the rocker who changed the world.

Written and directed by Todd Haynes (with additional scripting by James Lyon), Velvet Goldmine is loosely based on the life of David Bowie (with both Iggy Pop and Lou Reed being the inspiration for Curt Wild), and the movie almost led to a lawsuit by David Bowie.  The film performed poorly upon its released but has gained a cult following over the years.  Velvet Goldmine was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.

Like many, I hadn’t heard of Velvet Goldmine until it was nominated for an Academy Award and saw it after it came out on video.  I thought there were some great and interesting moments in the film and the music was quite good.  Rewatching the movie, it is pretty entertaining and stands up over the years.


Hey Iggy, I mean Curt!

The movie follows the path of Citizen Kane.  It involves people telling different perspectives of the same person to a reporter.  Haynes said it was a homage to the whole glam-rock Bowie period but the similarities between the characters are quite close.  Unlike Citizen Kane it also involves the narrator’s story and how Brian Slade influenced him as he was growing up…plus, their many almost encounters through concerts and events.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers is good as the star of the film but he was often overshadowed by Ewan McGregor who was the hot commodity at the time (and has the juicier role).  Christian Bale was making his transition into adult actor in the film and Toni Collette was an interesting choice to play Meyers’ wife.  Eddie Izzard was a good choice for the greedy manager of Slade who knew how to turn him into an image.



The movie is a feast for the eyes and it is pretty amazing that Shakespeare in Love’s costumes beat this movie’s costumes (and the make-up wasn’t nominated).  It is also aided by a good soundtrack.  McGregor and Meyers performed their own songs though Meyers were over-dubbed by Thom Yorke of Radiohead.

David Bowie was a chameleon that lasted decades in a business that spits out people because he knew how to change and what people wanted.  Velvet Goldmine explores this though diffused through Brian Slade.  What was brought to music through glam-rock was different, and the lasting sexual ambiguity of glam-rock continues to change society today.  Velvet Goldmine is a movie worth revisiting if you saw it a long time ago or worth seeking out if you’ve never seen it before.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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