Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 25
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 25
  3. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Reviewed by: David Lewis
    Sep 25, 2014
    100
    It’s right up there with the best rock documentaries. That is, if you can call it a documentary.
  2. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Sep 17, 2014
    100
    It is as intimate and honest a portrait of a rock artist’s creative roots as any film has attempted.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Sep 16, 2014
    100
    20,000 Days on Earth is meticulously crafted but nonetheless feels casual and heartfelt. It's revelatory, and wonderful, to watch Cave walking (or driving) around, being a real person — if the movie is somewhat staged, it's never stagey.
  4. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Sep 16, 2014
    100
    The film conceals as much as it reveals, and its beauty is that it pretends to do nothing else. It embraces a mystery and protects it, and it’s thrilling to behold.
  5. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Oct 17, 2014
    91
    Talented, prolific, familiar with film, etc. Cave is a natural to push documentaries in a new direction, and 20,000 Days on Earth does it.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Sep 19, 2014
    90
    For the most part, 20,000 Days on Earth – the approximate amount of time Cave has been alive on this planet – is an imagistic and impressionistic work, a Nick Cave-esque tone poem driven by moments of visual and thematic juxtaposition you either have to reject or accept.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Oct 2, 2014
    88
    20,000 Days on Earth isn’t so much a portrait of the artist as a middle-aged man, looking back on his life, as it is a meditation on the art of storytelling.
  8. Reviewed by: Simon Abrams
    Sep 18, 2014
    88
    Cave's soulful performance, shot in real-time and in extreme close-up, is that much more impressive once you realize he's playing a song for Forsyth and Pollard before he's performed it in front of a live audience.
  9. Reviewed by: Jason Heller
    Sep 17, 2014
    83
    One thing that ties all his projects together is a grainy, cinematic quality, which is partly the reason why 20,000 Days On Earth works so beautifully.
  10. Reviewed by: Cory Everett
    Mar 12, 2014
    83
    While the doc should prove essential for Nick Cave fans, it should be inspiring for those interested in the creative process or anyone searching for their muse.
  11. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Sep 25, 2014
    80
    This examination of the whys and wherefores of indie rock star Nick Cave is an unusual and nonformulaic cinematic enterprise and an adventurous film by any standard.
  12. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Sep 19, 2014
    80
    Certainly for any fan of Cave’s, 20,000 Days on Earth makes for a creative, enthralling journey through the man’s world.
  13. Reviewed by: Ed Frankl
    Sep 18, 2014
    80
    The film is both a biography of Cave's life and a beguiling vision of a musician considering the meaning of his own art.
  14. Reviewed by: Patrick Smith
    Sep 18, 2014
    80
    There is a beguiling, melancholic quality to the film, mirroring Cave’s personality.
  15. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    Sep 15, 2014
    80
    It may not be an access-all-areas portrayal of one of rock's most enigmatic characters, but then, where would be the fun in that?
  16. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Mar 12, 2014
    80
    An aptly intense and innovative study of pioneering rock poet Nick Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth playfully disguises itself as fiction while more than fulfilling the requirements of a biographical documentary.
  17. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Mar 12, 2014
    80
    What makes 20,000 Days on Earth distinctive is that it provides an overview of the man and his art while creating the illusion that this has come together organically -- out of poetic ruminations, casual encounters, ghost-like visitations and good old Freudian psychoanalysis.
  18. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Oct 1, 2014
    78
    What’s great about this “documentary” – Cave gets a script credit alongside the directors, which kind of invalidates the whole notion of hands-off documentary filmmaking – is that it delves deeply into Cave’s notoriously fussy creative process without ever becoming stodgy or dull.
  19. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Sep 26, 2014
    75
    It's a wondrous mix of the momentous and mundane, the profound and the perverse, with Cave blues-talking his way through the goofy juxtapositions, the darkness, and the light.
  20. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Sep 25, 2014
    75
    It’s a relief to find a rock-doc that eschews the usual grainy hand-held wobble for steady camerawork and crisp compositions. The movie looks gorgeous — an artful frame into which Cave can pour his demons.
  21. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Sep 17, 2014
    75
    The results are remarkably intelligent and entertaining, even for someone who (like this writer) finds Cave’s music rather dirge-like.
  22. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Sep 17, 2014
    70
    While 20,000 Days On Earth never finds the real Nick Cave, it’s because it knows better than to try to look for it.
  23. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Sep 15, 2014
    70
    No one who was not laughably self-involved would agree to a project like 20,000 Days on Earth, and yet Cave, to his credit, comes most alive in his hymns to other selves.
  24. Reviewed by: John Semley
    Sep 25, 2014
    63
    The film is so incessant on bolstering Cave’s repute and noble struggle with the art of songwriting that it can’t help but seem bloated and self-important. Sometimes seriousness should speak for itself.
  25. Reviewed by: John Semley
    Mar 12, 2014
    63
    While the film is seemingly accessible as a portrait of an artist who seems particularly attuned to his own creative process, and particularly adept at describing this attunement, it's unlikely that many who aren't already whole-hog Bad Seeds fans would be able to stomach much of Cave's self-styled pomposity.
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 3
  2. Negative: 1 out of 3
  1. Sep 26, 2014
    4
    I'm finding it bizarre, with the release of this film, that it's a foregone conclusion, if you like Nick Cave, you'll love this documentary. I understand the universal drooling from critics, even here, tracing to their endless pursuit of what's-hot-and-what's-not, but there are plenty others who actually listen to Nick Cave's music intensely and often, finding this documentary weirdly conventional, over-produced, sterile, and violative of any biographical trace of punk from the balladeer's past. From the ten-point lighting kit at the mock psychotherapy session, to the jib floating the camera around those armchairs, to the awkward conversations that were conceptually improvised but fundamentally staged, this film is the equivalent of a corporate video for an annual shareholder's meeting, or a broadcast network reality television show egging for market share. Will someone else speak up too, please? Nick Cave is one of the great multi-disciplinary artists of our time, and his extraordinary talents are scurrying around the festival circuit for this film at the expense of what he could be creating quietly at home: a new album, a new screenplay, a new film score, a new novel. Full Review »
  2. Nov 4, 2014
    8
    Staring blankly into the vastness of his dimly lit bedroom as the alarm shrieks and the clock ticks over to 7:00am, The acclaimed singer, song writer, poet, screen writer and sometimes actor, Nick Cave begins his 20,000th day on Earth and so begins the aptly titled Rockumentary/Docudrama 20,000 Days on Earth.

    First things first. Clearly this film was not shot in one day and Nick Cave regardless of the medium, has and always will continue to be a story teller of the highest calibre.

    That being said there are certainly some frank and candid insights into his life, including the sudden and tragic passing of his father when he was 19 years of age. As Nick so eloquently explains his narrative song writing process as having a counter point, there is indeed one to this aspect of the film and that is the intimacy of his on stage performances and the creative process he goes through with long time collaborator and friend Warren Ellis.

    The overall feel of the film is not as much an insight into the life of Nick Cave the artist, but more so about art itself, the memories, people and places who inspire his story telling.

    This is portrayed in the conversations that take place whilst driving his car around his Brighton neighbourhood when friends and collaborators, singer Kylie Minogue and actor Ray Winstone. Ray talks about reaching the age of 50 and feeling as if he needed to reinvent himself and then asks Nick if he ever felt that way. Nick responds, by telling the tale of when he chose to be something other than himself and the creation of the God like rock star he aspired to be.

    Similarly, Kylie Minogue regales her first ever encounter with Nick Cave, seeing him on stage for the first time, how he was like a mist that rolled in, something straight out of a movie scene.

    I am a Nick Cave fan, I have been for some time. I’m not die hard, but I do love a great deal many of his songs. This film had me from beginning to end. Regardless of what was fact and what was fiction. I was enthralled. I was entertained and I was mezmerized by the story telling, from his interactions to the people he encountered throughout his day, through to the narratives of his songs and the intermittent philosophical voice overs from the man himself.

    It is the entertaining, at times funny and at times sombre story of a masterful story teller and I highly recommend it to anyone who has even a passing interest in Nick Cave and his work.

    “All of our days are numbered. We cannot afford to be idle. To act on a bad idea is better than to not act at all, because the worth of an idea never becomes apparent until you do it.
    Sometimes this idea can be the smallest thing in the world – a little flame that you hunch over, and cup with your hand, and pray will not be extinguished by all the storm that howls about it. If you can hold on to that flame, great things can be constructed around it that are massive, and powerful, and world changing. All held up by the tiniest of ideas.”
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 7, 2014
    0
    I really don't understand the rave reviews. I cannot fully judge this film because my friend walked out after 40 minutes of one of the most boring films i had ever seen. We watched him get out of bed, eat herring, visit his studio and visit a therapist. Nick Cave had nothing to say. I am sure he is interesting but this did not show that. I frequently see foreign and independent films and will sit through slow films if they have something interesting goin on. This had nothing. Full Review »