“I’ve retrained as a ceramicist,” states Nick Cave, mocking the Tory campaign, which suggested those in the arts, suffering like many from severe job losses, should perhaps change careers. Jokes aside, The Bad Seeds leader has indeed been sculpting away, creating a series depicting the life of the Devil, from innocence to arrogance to demise. It’s a typically intimate yet strangely moving opening to Andrew Dominik’s follow-up to 2016’s stellar ‘One More Time With Feeling.’ While the director’s last documentary tackled grief and the importance of art to heal, This Much I Know To Be True acts more like a concert film, albeit one boasting little interview segments analyzing the relationship between Cave and his right-hand man, Warren Ellis.
First brought into the Bad Seeds camp to add some strings and flair during the mid-90s, the past 15 years have seen the two songwriters become inseparable, creating a string of soundtracks together, last year’s phenomenal ‘Carnage’ and mutating The Bad Seeds into a strange spectral creature. Unable to promote 2019’s ‘Ghosteen’ properly, this latest filmic offering sees the pair run through a selection of tracks from the aforementioned two albums, beautifully captured by DOP Robbie Ryan. Dominik’s direction is kinetic, grand but never too showy, perfectly matching the dramatic worlds these two artists build.
Sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by singers and a string quartet, the camera will often begin piercingly focused on its subject before floating away and spinning with the music on a 360 dolly. The lightning and sound are mesmerising, bursts of coloured light illuminating musicians as a key is stabbed, or a cymbal hit. The director builds an evocative and haunting atmosphere without overpowering the sometimes skeletal nature of the songs. - Helping to elevate the sense of crushing nostalgia and emotion are candid moments between the three Aussies. There are both hilarious and heartwarming moments as Cave, Ellis, and Dominik, shoot the shit about the tedium of reshoots, what happiness means, or how Cave’s Red Right Hand Files make him a better man whilst giving an open channel to his fans and mankind in general.
Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have bet on there being a somewhat cinematic Nick Cave universe, but as the man has changed, so has his art. As he states in this latest candid snapshot, he now views himself as a man, husband, father, and citizen first and a writer second. His desire to understand the world around him and find joy in the every day has given us yet another beautiful memento to enjoy. Catch it on the big screen if you can.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
THIS MUCH I KNOW TO BE TRUE - featuring Nick Cave & Warren Ellis will be in cinemas globally on Wednesday, May 11th.
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