Picks and Pans Review: Velvet Goldmine

updated 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1998 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

Every time the prodigiously talented McGregor (Trainspotting) slithers onscreen, this mercurial movie about fictional '70s glam rockers jolts to life. Watch McGregor—looking like the late Kurt Cobain's twin—prowl a concert stage and you understand why he so mesmerizes the film's androgynous protagonist (Rhys-Meyers), a singer closely modeled on Marc Bolan and David Bowie, right down to Bowie's futuristic spaceman garb and blue hair.

Borrowing from Citizen Kane and Eddie and the Cruisers, director-writer Todd Haynes's Velvet Goldmine switches in time between glam rock's brief era of glory and a decade later, when a then-fan-now-journalist (Christian Bale) searches for the missing Rhys-Meyers. The plot goes nowhere, the new songs written for the movie prove wan, and Goldmine uncovers little gold amid its shiny musical litter heap. (R)

Bottom Line: Ziggy Starbust is more like it

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