It was an exciting prospect to find a new documentary focused on the enigmatic Nick Cave a mere two years after the wonderful 20,000 Days on Earth landed, but after seeing One More Time with Feeling was made under better circumstances. While 20,000 Days was a joyous celebration of the creative process, One More Time revisits Cave in the throes of a deep personal grief after the accidental death of his 15 year-old son, Arthur.
Going into this, I was fully prepared to be emotionally gutted by the candid material on display, and it still wasn’t enough to contend with Andrew Dominik’s probing documentary. There are points where the limits of the format are stretched to the point of agony, particularly when Cave’s wife, Susie Bick, enters the picture to talk about the tragedy alongside her husband. But the content never feels exploitative, which is a sheer marvel, considering the painful sequences of Cave simply talking himself through this unspeakable trauma.
"There are points where the limits of the format are stretched to the point of agony"
But Dominik doesn’t completely leave us adrift in this sea of suffering, as the documentary is just as much about the making of Cave’s (and the Bad Seeds’) new album, ‘Skeleton Tree’. Dominik has two world-class DoPs working for him in fascinating ways in these stretches, with Danny Boyle collaborator Alwin H. Küchler grounding the material and the ever-ambitious Benoît Debie sending the camera flying into some pretty insane areas. Debie’s work is occasionally distracting and showy in alignment with the beautiful wordplay of Cave’s lyrics, but there’s not a lot that can stunt the flow of such gorgeous music along the way.
Shot (mostly) in sumptuous black-and-white 3D, One More Time with Feeling is an almost-too-intimate brush with an artist at his lowest ebb that thoroughly deconstructs the god-like Cave of 20,000 Days on Earth. As a follow-up, it’s eye-watering. As a stand-alone film, it is still ruthlessly unbearable. But don’t let that put you off.
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