This film follows artist Nick Cave over the course of a fictitious day during the recording of his band’s album Push the Sky Away. A hypnotic pseudo-documentary, it offers frank and beguiling insights into the artistic process.
It also explores the unique mind of one of Australia’s most long-lived musicians.
The film opens as it follows the subject’s morning routine, waking at home in Brighton, England, before watching him work away continuously at his typewriter. Cave narrates his life and the regime he follows to craft his musical output, and his words have an element of poetry about them.
He attends a session with his psychologist, where his youth and relationships with his father and women are discussed. Stories of touring and playing live stand out, particularly one about supporting the late Nina Simone, who he says physically transformed on stage. He talks about his atheism, and how his addiction to drugs was too closely tied to religion for him to let just one go.
Dark themes are uncovered almost from the get go, and Cave is startlingly frank, making him a captivating subject. These explorations (and some occasional nudity) may remove the film from the grasp of some viewers, however it offers deep contemplation for lovers of music, art and cinema.
The directors (who co-wrote the script with Cave), British artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, have crafted a swell blend of "imagination and reality," the intersection of which Cave posits is where he dwells. Driving between appointments, celebrities seemingly materialise in his Jaguar with him where they converse before dissolving again. Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue and Cave’s former bandmate Blixa Bargeld all take a turn in this spectral visitation, and all impress in their brief appearances.
As both a portrait of an artist and a fascinating pseudo-documentary, ’20,000 Days on Earth’ succeeds on many levels.
- Callum Ryan, ACOFB
20,000 Days on Earth stars Nick Cave, Kylie Minogue, Ray Winstone, Blixa Bargeld, Warren Ellis, The Bad Seeds. Directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. 95 minutes. Rated MA15+