20,000 Days on Earth, Review NZIFF

This Saturday evening I saw the 97 minute cinematic insight into Nick Cave. I honestly don’t know how to specifically define this film, except to say that it is a discussion of life, the universe, and everything. 

A memorable phrase uttered by Cave near the end (in voice-over) goes something like; acting on a bad decision is better than not acting at all. This is not to say that the ethos of the film is hedonistic, but more a recognition of the value of experience refracted through memory. Cave wonders aloud what matters to him now, what seemed to matter before, and what his friends think.

 Some of the friends who join him as passengers in his car (they appear and disappear giving the impression that the conversation is occurring in Nick’s head) like Ray Winston, and Kylie Minogue reflect on the good old times, the importance of self-confidence, and the realities of age. Minogue talks briefly of her fears of being forgotten by ‘people’. 

Although the film is centred on Nick Cave and he carries plenty of the aloof self-importance of a rock star (yes I know ‘rock’ is not adequate a term to apply to Cave’s style but I am way out of my depth here so please bear with me) he is self-deprecating, and clearly does not take himself entirely seriously. It would be agony to watch this film otherwise.

Rotten Tomatoes has given 20.000 Days on Earth 95%, an extremely high level of acclaim, and a fact I was made aware of imediately prior to the screening. An expectations boost did not disadvantage the film, and although I consider myself musically illiterate the world of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds kept me enthralled throughout. I had to resist the temptation to applaud at the end of one of his songs delivered at a live show — after my coughing fit I didn’t want to annoy my fellow movie-goers any further.

This is certainly a film worth taking note of and seeing if at all possible. Especially if like me you will be seeing Nick Cave perform live at the end of the year and as yet know nothing about the man. Conversely, if you already are a fan and perhaps have some musical knowledge, I have no doubt you will see things in this film that went completely over my head.


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