Review: 20,000 Days on Earth

Wannabe-Dark Lord Nick Cave, now into his later 50s, celebrates his 20,000 days on earth with this entertaining chunk of self-mythologising that’s part documentary, part mockumentary, part ego-trip and, knowing Cave, part big joke too.

Wannabe-Dark Lord Nick Cave, now into his later 50s, celebrates his 20,000 days on earth with this entertaining chunk of self-mythologising that’s part documentary, part mockumentary, part ego-trip and, knowing Cave, part big joke too. After a cool credits sequence that runs through a mass of historical footage and images of Cave growing up and becoming the guy he is today, we cut to Cave as he awakens at his house in Brighton, England, and his voiceover begins. He considers staying home to annoy his wife, but instead decides to drive to the studio and, later, the archive. After a quick Kylie Minogue joke, we’re into the business of who this man is and what exactly we’re supposed to be watching. A television interview then seemingly commences, but it plays more like a therapy session, and is cut short when Cave becomes emotional. Then we’re back on the road as he grumbles about the appalling climate in the UK. We get the first cameo, as his old pal Ray Winstone pops up beside him in a fantasy (?) sequence, and the two ruminate over getting older, before, a while on, former Bad Seed Blixa Bargeld appears for a tense chat and, of course, Kylie eventually materialises in the backseat (and the two don’t make eye contact). Our subject also pays a visit to beardy Bad Seed Warren Ellis, who cooks up eel pasta before we see them and the rest of the band (and a choir of kids) in the studio nutting out songs for the Push the Sky Away album, one of which makes Cave smile and actually laugh. Documentary purists might be irked at this pseudo-phantasmagoria (sorry about that) co-written and co-directed by longtime Cave collaborators Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, but the sometimes reverential, sometimes masturbatory tone seems appropriate when dealing with someone like Cave. It’s all worthwhile when we see him actually perform, and it’s obvious that time hasn’t robbed him of his awesome, even frightening, talent. 20,000 Days on Earth is in cinemas now. Rated MA.

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