Nick Cave - 20,000 Days on Earth


"I wake, I write, I eat, I write, I watch TV..." so says rock icon Nick Cave in his opening narration voiceover. And in doing so lays out the template of this exceptional documentary. Of course, if you know the artist Cave, you will know that his life isn't quite that simple. And while the film plays like a day in the life of Nick, from the opening scene of him waking up in bed next to his wife Susie to final crescendo of an evening performance of an absolutely riveting live version of "Higgs Boson Blues" from his last album, it is everything in between that really explores and exposes the artist as a work in progress.

Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard started out filming what was supposed to be an EPK for Nick's latest album Push The Sky Away but ended up with this truly revelatory film. Even though they gave Nick final approval on the movie, it suffers not. We are left at the crossroads where documentary and fictional narrative blur together. It has Nick's clever creativity coursing through it as he's placed in staged scenes and the let the cameras roll. It's as much a work of art as anything he's ever released on album, book or film. Nick's narration is sheer poetry, his lyrical poetry. One of the most poignant scenes has Nick munching on a slice of pizza sandwiched between his twin 14-year old boys while watching Scarface. Even in this purely domestic situation there remains a thread of menace just bubbling under the surface. Or Nick discussing his sexual history with real therapist Darian Leader in a fake office.

There are wonderful scenes of Cave driving his Jaguar along his UK southern coastal hometown of Brighton, UK. These play out like internal dialogs with artists from his past -- actor Ray Winstone, singer Kylie Minogue (muse and co-vocalist of his biggest selling single "Where The Wild Roses Grow"), former Bad Seed guitarist Blixa Bargeld -- as they ruminate aloud about their lives and art. His artistic foil, friend and fellow Bad Seed Warren Ellis share some pasta and eel at lunch and wax poetic about Nina Simone and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Cave has always reminded me of a punk rock version of Bobby Darin, possessing a detached charismatic coolness that is both inviting and menacing at the same time. A force of nature. Especially live. If you've never seen him take command of a stage there is a sequence towards the very end of film where he and Bad Seeds pulsate and then explode performing the existential masterpiece "Higgs Boson Blues" -- the discovery of the Higgs Boson completed the Standard Model of particle physics and as been called the "God" particle -- live on stage at Sydney Opera House. Time and time again, Nick's lanky art boy coolness in this narrative documentary exposes his raw, visceral energy. Go see it as soon as you are able.