‘20,000 Days’ a look at out-there artist Nick Cave

Given his distinctive and ultra-dramatic stage presence, it makes sense that a documentary portrait of Nick Cave would not be the usual thing. And “20,000 Days on Earth” is not the usual thing.

At first this film appears to be a rumination on where the Australian-born rock star is these days: 20,000 days of life puts him in his mid-fifties, and we meet him in his home in Brighton, England, where he lives with wife Susie and two sons.

The movie then winds from one random stop to the next. Cave is seen sitting in what appears to be a therapy session with real-life psychoanalyst Darian Leader, musing on his former life as an addict and his relationship to his father.

We also see conversations in cars. Cave chats with actor Ray Winstone (star of “The Proposition,” which Cave co-scripted) and pop superstar Kylie Minogue. Like much of the film, these situations are contrived, but the conversations are unscripted.

Cave rehearses music, sits at his typewriter and explains his creative process, and visits his archive. The movie culminates in a stage performance in Sydney, where we get a taste of the heavy, hypnotic style that turns Cave’s stage act into a near-religious ritual.

One of the best sequences is a visit with Cave’s longtime creative partner, Warren Ellis, a member of the Bad Seeds and the co-composer of Cave’s beautiful score for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Ellis is an incorrigible raconteur — there’s a great bit about seeing Jerry Lee Lewis in concert — who cooks his friend a serving of eel in a house near the white cliffs of Dover.

Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard have worked with Cave before, and they’ve obviously gotten him comfortable talking about himself. Or maybe it didn’t take much: Cave comes across as so given to introspection that his musings can come across as navel-gazing.

That’s going to test the patience of viewers who aren’t already part of Cave’s devoted following. But I found it an interesting portrait of the self-analysis that’s probably obligatory for an artist who goes as far out there as Cave does.

It would’ve been cool to hear something about Cave’s appearance in Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire,” but that doesn’t come up. Beyond that, if you’re a Nick Cave fan, this is a must-see. And the uninitiated have a good chance of being intrigued, if not actually hypnotized.

“20,000 Days on Earth” (3 stars)

A documentary portrait (but with contrived situations) of the Australian-born rock star Nick Cave. It’s an offbeat approach, as befits Cave’s distinctive style, and includes scenes of home life, rehearsals, and therapy. The results has more than its share of navel-gazing, but you do get a sense of what goes into being the kind of artist Cave is.

Rating: Not rated; probably PG for language

Showing: Grand Illusion theater

More in Life

Rick Steves chooses leisurely Lucca for a true Italian experience

A leisurely evening stroll along the ancient town’s walls is one of the best travel experiences.

The Roller Barn has been an important part of Oak Harbor for generations.
Can the 107-year-old Roller Barn on Whidbey Island be saved?

A Whidbey Island businessman wants to raise $80,000 by March 31 to buy Oak Harbor’s iconic building.

Dr. Paul on 5 ways to ensure your marriage blooms and grows

Showing up for our loved ones in the ways that are important is the secret for a loving union.

Watch big birds hit the potato jackpot in Skagit Valley fields

Farmers’ loss is trumpeter swans’ and snow geese’s gain, as the migratory birds feast on spuds left in the ground.

Soft plastic recycling service expands to Snohomish County

A Seattle-based company that recycles plastic film, batteries and lightbulbs now offers its services here.

Take your pick from thousands of bare-root roses this season

When planting roses in the garden, get them watered-in right away and add some transplant fertilizer.

Hire a home energy efficiency contractor without getting burned

Here are four things to remember when you hire out to install a heat pump or window replacement.

Great Plant Pick: Pulmonaria ‘Benediction,’ aka lungwort

Plant this mounding perennial — featuring navy-blue flowers — with foilage plants like ferns and hostas.

Drink This: He quit making cider — now he’s back at it on Camano

Corey Haugen, former owner of Grizzly Ciderworks, which closed shop in 2017, has a new cidery business.

Most Read