Instead, Flynn channels the shadow of a ghost of Bowie. His portrayal is that of a passive wallflower, not a man who knew when to stay silent to keep an air of mystery. His wife Angie (Jena Malone), Oberman, and managers argue over him, but he retreats and pouts that he just wants to be a star. It’s like a shallow facsimile of the artist. This might be personal projecting, but one doesn’t usually study pantomime to become a rock god. Bowie became a headliner to make the weirdo art he wanted to make. The movie understands that differently.
Maron, for his part, makes the most out of this nothing burger, occasionally injecting some life into a limp story and excellently delivering deadpanned lines, even if they’re of dad-joke quality. His presence props up Flynn’s uncharismatic performance, giving a moment like Bowie’s less-than-stellar pitstop to see Andy Warhol at The Factory some heart. As Oberman, Maron switches gears from feeling dejected over getting left out in the cold to trash talking Warhol to make Bowie feel better that the famous artist wouldn’t talk to him. The “never meet your heroes” sequence then becomes a genuine discussion about pop art. Maron’s eagerness, sometimes desperation, as Oberman to convince journalists and radio hosts to “give the kid a chance” is the most convincing performance in the movie.
However, Angie Bowie is given a much less charitable treatment. She may be a controversial figure in her husband’s story, but “Stardust” really only provides her space to act like a terror, one more power hungry than any of the musicians in the room. She might be the stage wife to outdo all stage wives, at one point barking into the phone at Bowie, “You can’t come home until you make it.” Poor Malone practically spends all of her time on-screen yelling, scowling, or exerting her control. Angie’s made to be quite the definition of a one-note character, one that smacks of sexist tropes.