One More Time with Feeling
2016 musical documentary
Plot: Following the death of a son, musician Nick Cave works on dealing with those emotions and wrapping up the recording of an album.
This is a weird one, so beautiful and haunting but almost devastatingly depressing. You want to question why Cave wanted this document of his sorrow. It was explained that he asked friend Andrew Dominik to direct this because he didn't want to be asked about the tragedy and his feelings, letting this movie do all that talking for him. I'm not sure it's all that effective in communicating those feelings, mostly because I don't think there's anyway to take the abstract feelings about the tragic loss of a loved one so soon after it's happened and forming them into something that other people are going to understand. It's all very raw, and although you can't fully connect the dots in his stream-of-conscious meanderings where he describes his feelings, it still somehow makes complete sense on an emotional level.
I can't say this was much fun to watch. It was like watching two people trying to pick up pieces of their hearts. But it's striking and it's really beautiful. Filmed in black and white--the only colors that makes sense for this sort of thing--and at least partially in 3-D, this has a look that is really unique, really unlike anything I've seen before. That Dominik knows how to set up a shot. Cave is an interesting-looking dude anyway. He's got an intimidating hairline and gauntness, and he also just looks striking here, almost in every single shot. Even before tragedy, I guess you could call Cave sort of a morose fellow, but in this, he looks like he's just got this enormous weight on him. You really feel this pain.
The studio stuff is shot so beautifully though. A lot of times, it's just Cave at his piano or Cave standing and gesticulating and singing. Dominik's camera swims around, artificially at times, and he even utilizes a circular track to get a 360 shot of Cave at the piano. I didn't watch this in 3D, of course, and I wonder what that effect would have been. There were certain shots that looked a little warbly. But that stark black and white--mostly black, to be honest--was just staggering.
There are a lot of touching moments in this. Longtime band-mate and pal Warren Ellis gets the second or third most interview time--maybe even ahead of Cave's wife--and you can tell that he's suffering from the loss as well. A scene where they look at a painting the deceased son had made is also very sad. Despite moments like that that seem like very private moments, this never really feels exploitative. The son isn't even mentioned initially, so if you didn't know the musician had lost a song going into this thing, you wouldn't even understand what he was going through for the majority of the film. I do question shots at the very end of the movie of the cliff where the tragedy happened. Those, I'm afraid, were unnecessary.
The music? Well, I'm not sure it has mass appeal. Cave is sort of an acquired taste anyway, and these songs are a bit difficult.
Anyway, this is an accurate portrayal of grief and loss. It's not a fun movie to watch, but it definitely is an experience.