Venice Film Festival: One More Time With Feeling

One More Time With Feeling
Directed by Andrew Dominik
Starring Nick Cave

by Jenny Donoghue

Shot by The Assassination of Jesse James‘ Andrew Dominik, mostly in black and white and 3D, One More Time With Feeling is a gorgeous treat of a film that feels somewhere between a great piece of art and a satisfying meal visually aurally and emotionally.

The documentary follows musician Nick Cave during the making of his album Skeleton Tree with his band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and interview footage is intercut with live performance of songs from the album. It’s also an achingly raw and personal look at a man dealing with the loss of his son, who died during the album’s creation.

The use of 3D together with black and white evokes an old movie style vintage rock and roll glamour, giving all the shots, from the swooping panoramas of London to the close ups on band members as they play, and series of object stills poignancy and beauty. It also accentuates Cave’s inherent classic rockstar quality. In the close shots of Cave talking close and personal, the shading and 3D adds a soft realness, a closeness and personal feeling – you really feel you’re sat with the man, riding in the taxi with him, there in the studio.

A compelling subject, both visually and emotionally, the interview sections feel so incredibly personal and honest, it’s a real treat to be given the gift of such naked and rich human emotion, especially presented so beautifully. Cave is an interesting subject with an expressive face whose plains are highlighted dramatically through the lighting and colour. The lighting and shadow choices with the 3D make a shot of a person visually stunning, almost like a moving sculpture. The gorgeous highlighting allows an appreciation of every little detail – down to the pleat of a trouser. The moments of colour are also more striking for the contrast with black and white.

Obviously as a documentary there’s an inherent realness to the content, but it is truly an honour being given the gift of sharing so candidly in this hugely personal experience. Dominik includes moments of speechlessness where Cave struggles to articulate, and to watch such a creative articulate man struggle with expression is very powerful. Cave’s songs intercut with the material are given new poignancy and the raw emotion of his work is heightened, but it’s work that is inherently raw and emotional and personal either way.

There is some beautiful camera work – lots of blur and refocusing, drifting focus, the big soft glow of lamps in the black and white background, and great swooping shots panning into the grains and veins of wood and faces, and out to a sunset sky as night falls, swooping away from the earth into space in one long continuous shot, conjuring the spiritual intentionally, I’m sure. As cliché as it might sound, it is visually stunning and I’ll admit to shedding a few tears.

For a film that addresses death and grief so thoroughly, there’s a surprising lack of melancholy. There’s an inescapable heaviness, but it translates into a poignancy of words, music and visual imagery, rather than weighing the film down or making the viewer overly sad. It’s a huge achievement to tackle such a painful subject without getting bogged down in moroseness. Instead it’s often reflective, complex, feelings unresolved and blossoming into musings on the nature of life and time. The ending, and the tone throughout, even feels a little optimistic, from the recitation of Nick’s poem “There is more paradise in hell than I’ve been told,” to the message the film ends on – of Cave and his wife learning to take care of each other and value each other and how life goes on even though trauma can keep pulling you back. If you want to be moved, witness the gift of something real, and have a visual and aural treat, go sink into the world of One More Time With Feeling.



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