Review: 20,000 Days on Earth

Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard combine documentary and drama, music and musings on life, in a portrait of Australian musician Nick Cave as he spends his 20,000th day on Earth. For some, it’ll be a dreamlike, day-in-the-life treatment that teeters on pretentious; an arty conceit that confounds and confuses more than it engages or enlightens. For others, it offers a magical montage of music and imagery, fractured insights and diverting discussions.

Amidst guest appearances in the back of Nick’s Jaguar, by the likes of Kylie Minogue and Ray Winstone, it’s Cave who dominates, alternately serious and self-mocking, revealing and retreating. Whether opening up to a therapist, relating tales of how his dad read him Lolita as a kid, or musing on his admiration for Nina Simone, his former drug addiction, or dealing with his dad’s demise, Cave runs the gamut, from deftly cerebral to darkly comic.

For an artist famed for his dark lyrics and brooding music, this is a surprisingly entertaining glimpse into Cave’s off-stage life. The shooting and editing style lend the film a surreal quality, and the inclusion of but a few, select, songs from Cave’s repertoire will delight his fans without alienating the uninitiated. If you’re already into Cave, The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds, it’s cinematic heaven. For those, like me, with a passing interest, it’s a movie that stands out as a delightful dalliance; a simultaneously frustrating and fanciful fusing of art, music, poetry and performance.

‘20,000 Days on Earth’ Movie Times