There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief - that is how ancient Greek tragedians put it.
Grief and beauty.
Parallels between the literate wisdom, apocalyptic imagery, emotional and romantic density and weight in Cave’s oeuvre and the emissions of the ancient Greek are manifold.
The expression of love that no pain can erode.
One More Time with Feeling is an exercise in making a virtue out of necessity: Originated from a documentary accompanying the genesis and recording of the 16th album Skeleton Tree, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the black-and-white documentary became, in the aftermath of the death of Nick Cave’s 15-year old son Arthur, a personal and creative response of a wounded man dealing with grief.
A vehicle of sorts, a film that makes a statement about his loss to counteract having to go through it via interviews and the penetration of intrusive questions picking the wound.
Not entertainment per se but a practical solution to a practical problem.
One More Time with Feeling is comprised of 35 minutes of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performing at Air Studios in London in early 2016 during the final recording sessions for the album interspersed with intermittent narration, observation, improvised rumination and with director Andrew Dominik’s interviews with Warren Ellis, Cave and Cave’s wife Susie Bick.
We join Cave before the release of the conceptual album Skeleton Tree, which essentially addresses personal loss in the abstract, and experience the artist carrying on and going back to work.
Carrying on with time creating distance from the event of loss yet with the omnipresence of the magnetic pull that always sends him back to it.
Skeleton Tree is an album that continues and deepens the mood that Push the Sky Away has keynoted, with his partner Warren Ellis providing the heartbeat that serves as the glue that holds everything together.
The album delves deeper into spheres of improvisation, attempting to give form to the unconscious with Cave further exploring the concept where the song itself does not even know what it is and his efforts to capture exactly that moment.
While the lion’s share of the new album had already been recorded before Arthur’s death, it is obvious that the event imbued every bit of Skeleton Tree with loss and its repercussions.
Based on a deal between Cave and Dominik that the director could ask and film anything and Cave in turn could take anything out of the film, One More Time with Feeling walks the thin line between the intimate, legitimate portrait of an artist, his family and his band in grief and voyeurism by embracing the state of confusion and tortured headspace with brutal honesty.
It is about the process of grieving, not platitudinous commemoration through sentimental truisms.
One More Time with Feeling is like a poem, a collection of moments without an imposed narrative red thread. Not unlike life itself.
Despite the absence of a message or story, there is something comforting and reassuring about it. The fact that grief is an ongoing thing just like the search for existential answers.
You can carry on.
8.0 / 10
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