20,000 Days on Earth (4 stars)

20,000 Days on Earth

This eclectic pseudo-doc paints a fittingly askew portrait of the musician Nick Cave

20,000 Days on Earth spins the seductive, semi-truthful story of Nick Cave. It's an existentialist pseudo-documentary, taking in love, death and memories as well as the art of songwriting, storytelling and performance. With its theme of self investigation and distinctly playful bent, the film is perhaps inspired by (and certainly in the mould of) Sarah Polley's superlative Stories We Tell. Simmering at its core, the vampiric Cave emerges as appealingly mischievous, as well as unashamedly egotistical, prolifically creative and wholly self-aware.

Directed by British artists and filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, with a script penned in collaboration with Cave himself, it begins with a video wall of televised memories and a counter which hares furiously to 19,999, before an alarm clock sounds the arrival of Cave's 20,000th day and he emerges drowsily from his slumber. In this wonderfully eclectic offering we have: guest appearances from Kylie and Ray Winstone; Cave swapping hilarious Nina Simone anecdotes with band-mate Warren Ellis; some studio time with Cave and the Bad Seeds; a session with chin-stroking psychoanalyst Darian Leader, who delves into Cave's childhood; and a journey through the archives.

Forsyth and Pollard have worked with Cave before on music videos and on shorts documenting the Bad Seeds' studio albums, and they create an atmosphere entirely befitting his unique appeal in a film told at least partly in his own words. With silky cinematography by Erik Wilson (The Double, The Imposter) flanked by stirring sounds, 20,000 Days on Earth is a skilful marriage of wit and wisdom, darkness and light. This fiercely beautiful amalgam will sweep you up in its masterful, thrillingly macabre embrace before sending you swooning out of the cinema. It's like waltzing with Count Dracula.

Selected release from Fri 19 Sep.

20,000 Days on Earth - Official Trailer

20,000 Days on Earth

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • UK
  • 1h 37min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Iain Forsyth/Jane Pollard
  • Written by: Nick Cave, Ian Forsyth, Jane Pollard
  • Cast: Blixa Bargeld, Susie Bick, Arthur Cave
  • UK release: 19 September 2014

Existentialist pseudo-documentary telling the seductive and quasi-truthful story of Nick Cave, starring and co-written by the man himself. With guest appearances from Ray Winstone, Kylie Minogue and psychoanalyst Darian Leader, it's a mischievous and fiercely beautiful amalgam which sweeps you up in its embrace before…