20,000 Days on Earth

"Excellent"

20,000 Days on Earth Review


Far from the standard biographical documentary, this is a strikingly artistic exploration of the life of musician, actor and writer Nick Cave, assembled with the rhythms and energies of his work. It's such an inventive approach to filmmaking that it's both gripping and surprisingly moving, shot with a lush visual style that weaves in Cave's distinctive, provocative music and earthy humour.

The film follows Cave over the course of one day, which he has calculated is his 20,000th. Born in rural Australia, Cave is now 56, and lives in Brighton, England, with his wife Susie Bick and their cheeky twin sons Arthur and Earl. Over the course of this day, Cave reminisces about his life as he goes through his usual routine: writing his next script, working with his songwriting partner Warren Ellis and watching TV with his boys. On this day, he also visits the recording studio, talks about issues from his childhood with noted psychoanalyst Darian Leader, trawls through his archive and offers lifts to friends and collaborators like Kylie Minogue, Ray Winstone and Blixa Bargeld. 

There are moments when we can feel Cave and filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard straining to find a clever way of inserting the usual documentary elements, so the film sometimes feels a bit belaboured. For example, Cave's archive is a cluttered basement full of old documents, photos and videos that are projected on to the walls as archival clips. This may be contrived, but it's also bracingly original, as is turning the usual to-camera interviews into revelatory conversations with the man himself. And the songs are performed in jam sessions, practice rooms and beautifully shot stage pieces. For his part, Cave goes through this odyssey with deadpan wit and refreshing transparency, opening up about his personal life, creative processes and the tricky balance between fame and artistic integrity.

This is a fascinating portrait of an uncompromising artist whose music often seems abrasive and angry, delving deep in to emotional territory. Cave's fans will love every moment of this film, and those unfamiliar with his work with find it irresistible, especially as Cave's open-handed approach makes the movie itself an exploration of where real meaning is found in everyday life, including pointed comments about his work, relationships and political views. By exploring Cave's creative processes in such an imaginative way, the film often discovers flashes of sublime insight. And it reaches a striking climax in a sequence that intercuts between Cave's musical career and a transcendent performance at the Sydney Opera House.



20,000 Days on Earth

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 18th November 2014

Box Office USA: $0.3M

Distributed by: Drafthouse Films

Production compaines: Corniche Pictures, BFI, Film4

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Fresh: 65 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard

Producer: Dan Bowen, James Wilson

Starring: Blixa Bargeld as Himself, Susie Bick as Herself, Arthur Cave as Himself, Earl Cave as Himself, Warren Ellis as Himself, Kirk Lake as Archivist, Darian Leader as Himself, as Herself, as Himself

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