Review - One More Time With Feeling
Directed by Andrew Dominik, One More Time With Feeling begins as a documentary about the creative process of artists, specifically those of Nick Cave and his band The Bad Seeds while making their new album Skeleton Tree, out today, but the film is stalked by something much darker.
The state of voyeurism inflicted upon the viewer as they’re allowed to listen in on a narrative laden with cryptic allusions to a particular event-in-time that stifled said process for Cave, is all the more poignant for the fact the viewer is assumed to already know the event in question.
Cave was half-way through recording his sixteenth studio album with the Bad Seeds in July 2015 when the tragic death of his 15-year-old son Arthur crippled him and his family.
We observe warmly as Cave’s wife Susie Bick and Arthur's twin brother Earl visit Cave in the studio. They share an embrace and a joke. It’s simple, yet moving. Cave rarely let’s his guard down like this in front of a camera.
He is seldom candid; a caricature created after 30-years of friction with the press, designed to keep the prying at arms-length. His stage persona drenched in misery and chaos, with a habit of taking himself too seriously, yet when the misery and chaos caught up with him, it diminished his ability to do what he does so well. “We all hope for this dramatic event in our life that we can write about, but this trauma, it was very damaging to the creative process.”
It’s an extremely cruel irony, that when Cave needed his caricature most, his hand was forced to reveal a truer self. Daunted at the prospect of doing press for the album and the inevitable questions about the tragedy, he financed the film in lieu of speaking with journalists.
The result is beautiful. Shot mostly in black & white 3D, with shifting sound that delivers an emotional creeping intimacy, it’s an examination into a lost and then found artistic capability, and the fleeting solace it brings. It’s a meditation on raw grief and its all-consuming modus.
The documentary shows performances in their entirety of all-but-one of the tracks on Skeleton Tree, and opens a window to the deep friendship offered by Warren Ellis to Cave and Bick. Ellis is Cave’s creative partner in the Bad Seeds, and previously worked for director Dominik when he and Cave composed the score to the 2007 western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
As the film develops we’re introduced more and more to Susie, a clothes designer also finding alleviation through her work. She shares on camera a painting Arthur had made as a young boy that had recently been found in storage. Harrowingly, it’s of the cliffs where Arthur fell to his death near the family’s Brighton home.
One More Time With Feeling shows us the fragility of life and portrays a level of human resilience doomed to carry on no matter how heavy an event-in-time can be. “Time is elastic. We can go away from the event but at some point the elastic snaps and we always come back to it.” Fan or not, it makes for essential viewing.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds have today revealed the video for I Need You. Watch it below.