Wham!, as the name suggests, is a documentary about the titular English pop duo, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, to mark the 40th anniversary of their debut album Fantastic. The film follows the trajectory of their careers, from coming up with song ideas on the bus to school to achieving worldwide adoration and acclaim.
The documentary is primarily structured around interviews with Michael and Ridgeley, with archival footage filling in any narrative gaps and providing some extra visual interest, with a series of scrapbooks by Ridgeley’s mother as an additional storytelling conceit. These disparate elements come together to make a feature that is at once comprehensive and intimate, covering the broad strokes of the pair’s meteoric rise to stardom, while also exploring the complicated emotions that accompanied each stage of their artistic development. The heavy focus on interviews with the artists themselves also gives the documentary something of a personal touch, bringing the enduring bond between Michael and Ridgeley to the forefront of the piece and providing some intriguing insights into their creative processes.
While the history of Wham! Is ostensibly the A-plot of the piece, the real story at its heart is the creation of George Michael from the clay of Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou. This isn’t to say that Andrew Ridgeley is ignored – quite the opposite, the documentary puts a lot of emphasis on the close friendship he had with Michael and the ways the duo inspired each other on and off the stage – but the genesis of the superstar is something that Wham! spends a lot of its duration on. There’s a good balance between coverage of them as a band and Michael as a solo creative, and these two narrative beats inform and enhance each other without the film stepping on its own toes.
Overall, Wham! is an entertaining and informative look at one of the biggest pop groups of the 80s, managing to tell a fairly detailed and compelling story in a breezy 92 minutes. It’s impressive how much information – and emotion – is able to fit into this runtime, and while a few gaps in the film’s coverage are inevitable, what is on screen is more than enough to compensate.
Wham! is released on Netflix on 5th July 2023.
Watch the trailer for Wham! here: