20,000 DAYS ON EARTH: REVIEW – Australian rock star Nick Cave spends his 20,000th day on earth in the company of a camera crew, Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue and various collaborators.

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s surprisingly affable rockumentary shows the brilliant and gloomy songwriter in a variety of staged encounters in his adopted home of Brighton – including a toe-curling psychiatry session, the making of an album, preparation for a concert, lunch with a collaborator and various anecdotes from a career that has always managed to maintain a cult status while occasionally bobbing – like a murder victim wrapped in plastic sheeting – into the mainstream.

Full disclosure: I am a huge Nick Cave fan, having followed him from The Birthday Party through to the Bad Seeds. I saw him when he was touring The Good Son and never looked back. His albums are almost without exception fantastic, his film scores are exceptional, especially The Road and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and his two novels are awful, but I’ve dutifully read both. He even had a short stint as an actor in the amazing and underrated Australian prison film Ghosts of the Civil Dead, directed by fan and collaborator John Hilcoat as well as an appearance as himself in Wim Wenders’ masterpiece Wings of Desire.

I felt some trepidation watching the film, with the feeling you might get before meeting your hero, but the film pulls off the trick of at once being intimate and yet perpetuating  the image of the austere, brooding and unapproachable songster. A layer of darkness is undercut by mundane business, typified by a shot of Cave en famille munching pizza with his twin boys, and watching television. This being Cave, he’s not watching Strictly Dancing, but instead the final shoot out of Brian De Palma’s Scarface.

In short, if you like Nick Cave the film will be a welcome companion piece to The Road to God Knows Where. And if you don’t you’ll be baffled by the whole project.


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