Review – 20,000 Days On Earth – 4/5

Directors: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard                                                                                                                                                

Certificate: 15

Cast: Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Kylie Minogue, Ray Winstone                                                                                                                                             

Running Time: 1hr 37mins

Plot: Musician, artist and writer Nick Cave reflects on a life well spent and looks forward, hopefully, to enjoying many more years of irrepressible creation.

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When Nick Cave went to bed he was 19,999 days old. When he woke up, and when this emotionally charged character study starts, he began his 20,000th day of life outside the womb (well not really but this 50% Documentary 50% Mockumentary pretends that it is the case). What’s he done with those days? Even for someone who knew nothing (seriously, nothing) about the guy, the chaotically fuzzing supercut-monatge intro of his career in music lets you know that he’s done an awful, awful lot. 20,000 Days seizes you with its calming, appreciative glimpses of a human existence led to the fullest, and Nick Cave’s often spiritualist espousings, as profound or even indulgently ponderous as they may sound, let you see the face behind the mask. Such an incredible, primordial creator as Nick Cave ought to be listened to; he is a jack of most artistic trades and a master of several, having fronted two internationally successful bands (most prominently the Bad Seeds), written reams and reams of fiction and poetry, overcome heroin/alcohol addiction, and written several screenplays (Lawless, most recently) too. He also has a happily family, loyal lifelong friends (among them Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue) and a cerebral sense of calm, a oneness with life and humility before nature that has no doubt supported his remarkable longevity.

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At no point do Cave’s broodings, questionings, or self-questionings of questionings become a bore. It is almost satisfying to know that a person who appears on the surface – and through their body of work – to have it all can still yearn for something more, to feel an angst to inspire themselves when all around them people are in sheer awe, something attested to by the orgasmic reactions of his adoring audiences in clips from Cave’s electric live gigs. Even if you have no awareness of the man in any way shape of form beyond what you see in the poster, you’ll come out knowing him thanks to the insightful, lyrical commentary he lends to the pleasant breaths davened between his self-exploration and musical ritual. You also get to witness Ray Winstone scratching his face and telling his driver Nick Cave how the air-con system works in a car: ‘It’s science, innit.’

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