Don’t get me wrong I was willing, urging this film to be magnificent. But will as I did, it isn’t.
In fact it’s like the ultimate home movie utilising the finest cinematographers money can buy (Benoit Debie and Alwin H Kuchler – I suspect one was on 2D duty, one on 3D – I saw it in 2D).
The back story is important here. The documentary was commissioned to film the making of Cave’s brilliant new album, Skeleton Tree, (I know it’s brilliant because it was played in full on its release 11 hours ago on the BBC 6 Music Mary Anne Hobbs Show). What nobody predicted was that it would become a film about grief because, as I understand the timing, no sooner had filming started than Cave’s 15 year old son, Arthur, died in a climbing accident. The chronology of this is not clear in the film’s narrative.
When I read of Arthur’s death I was devastated for Nick Cave (I truly love the man) and so I expected the film to be an emotional roller coaster.
Instead what we get is a strung out self indulgence piece. And I don’t mean Nick Cave’s self indulgence, I mean Andrew Dominik’s. (Director of Cave-soundtracked, and awesome, movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.)
It is sumptuously photographed and of course the music is stellar but the glue that binds it, the storyline, is fragmented, dull and seemingly endless. OK, I accept Cave is a private man and he doesn’t want to spill his grief out on camera, his wife too, but when he describes breaking down in the arms of a virtual stranger on the High Street in Brighton we get a glimpse of what he is going through.
But that’s it.
My companion fell asleep several times. Thanks partly to the heat in The Filmhouse, Edinburgh where we saw this. Extremely uncomfortable. Did they not know they had a sell out audience?
I don’t like being negative about a film of this nature but if Dominik had an Executive Producer with a firmer hand we might have seen a more pared down and rewarding experience.
If you want to see Nick Cave at his very best on film watch the far superior 20,000 Days on Earth, directed by Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth. It’s magnificent.