20,000 Days on Earth

20,000 Days on Earth ★★★★

Nick Cave plays Nick Cave in a 'documentary' that at times seems to encompass larger cinematic proportions than you would typically associate with the genre. The film is presented as his 20,000 day alive since birth, 24 hours in the life of an artist, a husband, a Dad, a dreamer, a realist and a middle-age man living in Brighton. To call this a documentary is not really true in the strictest sense, regularly drifting into the fictional realm so often inhabited by its subjects songs.

Certainly if you are turned on by the idea of delving into an artists creative process, being taken into the confusing, restless mind that attempts to make sense of their life and world around them within a four minute song, then read on. Co-directors Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, assisted by Cave's own literary voice over, come as close as ever to channelling that mysterious space that lies between reality and imagination. Or transformation, as Cave himself calls it. The moment when time ceases to exist and the only thing that matters is now, right now, because everything else means nothing except the connection between you and the thing - whatever it may be - that you want to wrap yourself within forever. Except it can't stay that long which is what makes it so beautiful and eternally sought after.

We follow Cave working with the Bad Seeds on the songs that formed their 2013 album Push the Sky Away. Sitting inbetween a few performances of the songs Cave talks with a psychiatrist about memories from his childhood that have impacted on his creative approach. Going through an archive of old personal and professional photographs later he touches on his old group, how love was found and love lost. The films dreamlike form continues to take shape with car conversations alongside Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue that offer an outsider perspective of Cave and a performers struggle with identity.

Being a Nick Cave fan probably helps but it certainly isn't a necessity to enjoy the ideas being explored. The project feels like a collaborative attempt by the directors and the artist as springboard to look at more than just a creative mind. Sharp editing moves in flow with Cave's own lyrical narration to offer contemplation on our own myriad of influences, thoughts and fleeting moments that have brought us here, together, writing/reading this sentence. There is no direction or rules to examine, rather a celebration of how wonderfully individual these personal chimes ring true for each and everyone of us, whether up there on stage, or standing in awe down below.

This is a remarkably strong debut from Forsyth and Pollard and one gets the impression that this refreshing shake-up of how a documentary can be approached will be one of many directions they head in. Here they have taped into a rich vein that presents far more than just a look at a musician doing his 'thing', leaving us with plenty to ruminate and reflect upon, doing exactly what its very subject is supposed to deposit in our minds.

Block or Report

Steven liked these reviews