The Reel Review
This documentary is George Michael’s final artistic project before his sudden death on Christmas Day 2016 at age 53 from an enlarged, inflamed heart that just stopped working. Co-directing with composer/producer David Austin, one of the best-selling entertainers of all time uses this film to share his personal thoughts about his career, fame and his private life, while also offering up never before seen photographs and footage.
This film is a heavily curated love letter from George Michael to his fans – as expected, it is George Michael on George Michael’s terms. We get details behind the iconic songs and music videos that made Wham! and George Michael global superstars, as well as details about his personal struggles, about his partner who died in 1993 after contracting HIV, and his decision to back away from fame (and Sony Records) in an attempt to reclaim control over his music. In addition to interviews with former collaborators – including some of the supermodels from his iconic Freedom music video, we also see some sensational singing performances that illustrate how truly gifted he was, and also how funny – never taking himself too seriously.
As fun and immensely entertaining as the film is for fans, the moving and often poignant documentary doesn’t really dig into much of Michael’s personal life or psyche. But there is still enough content to remind us of what an incredible talent and class act George Michael really was, and frustratingly, how we are all coming to truly realize it years after he left us.
• This film was originally slated to air March 2017 to commemorate the re-release of Michael’s 1990 Listen Without Prejudice album with an MTV Unplugged addition. Following his sudden, unexpected death in December 2016, both the film and album were postponed until October 2017.
• Following George Michael’s death in 2016, countless stories arose of his charitable efforts, most of them he carried out anonymously, which included secret donations to people in need, work in a homeless shelter, throwing a free Christmas concert for nurses in 2006 following his mother’s death, and keeping numerous charities afloat with generous, multi-million-dollar donations.
• George Michael left most of his £97 million estate to his sister, father and friends, but not his partner at the time of his death, Fadi Fawaz, or his former partner of 13 years, Kenny Goss, who won a financial settlement with George Michael’s estate in 2021.