20,000 Days on Earth review – Nick Cave muses on his artistic legacy

This absorbing film follows the Australian musician as he ponders life, work and Lionel Richie on reaching the grand old age of 20,000 days

Rock star and film-maker Nick Cave produces and stars in this sprightly, creatively enhanced documentary about the current state of his life, music and general psychospiritual equilibrium as he passes the 20,000-day mark – ie, mid-50s. It’s a time when any artist might start wondering about his or her career trajectory, and what his or her legacy might be.

We see Cave getting out of bed in the morning, and brooding about his marriage and the demands he makes on it, cannibalising all his emotional experiences for songwriting. We see him hanging out with his friends, discussing the legendary appearances of Nina Simone and Jerry Lee Lewis, and, just maybe, wondering if he is in their iconic league. We see him in the studio, agonising over new compositions – there is a hilarious moment when someone points out a new tune sounds like Lionel Richie’s All Night Long. And we see him having fascinating (and surely genuine) analysis with Darian Leader. For me, the talking is great, perhaps more than the music, and there is something a tiny bit narcissistic about the lengthy clips of those live shows. But it really is absorbing stuff, and his quasi-imaginary conversation with Ray Winstone is hilarious.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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