At what point does the line between interest and obsession blur? Where is the line to be drawn between public interest and ghoulish, unnerving dive into the lives of the suffering? The second documentary on musician Nick Cave from Andrew Dominik finds him at yet another delicate point in the latter stages of his career. Although Idiot Prayer mused slightly on the creative process of art in lockdown, it was solely basing itself on the concert experience, and the isolation felt. What This Much I Know To Be True invites audiences to do is muse along with Cave and director Dominik on the personal reaction, the emotional restraint of music and the need to break from the grand stage.
Naturally, the best parts of this feature are those moments where Cave and long-time collaborator Warren Ellis strip back a song, and take it to its core elements and basic instincts. Synth notes paired with the varying vocal tones of Cave are as moving as they are emotionally provocative. Artfully shot by Dominik, the swirling camera shows no desire of hiding its presence, easing itself around and around the artists in the track-made circle. The intimacy within This Much I Know To Be True will not replace the hole left by the loss of it in your own life, but it will provide a warmth that covers it.
This is a real treat not just for Cave fans, but those who want to better understand his lyricism, and his desire to tell of his emotional state through song. Space for new interpretation of comforting songs providing a guiding light for darker days, Cave and Ellis storm through a beautiful setlist of piano-backed closeness that reflects on the beauty the pair could create with their musicianship. This Much I Know To Be True will feel closer to that of Idiot Prayer than One More Time With Feeling, although this latest Dominik feature tries to understand and incorporate both angles together. There are the contemplative moments of quiet, the new birth in the face of tremendous loss, paired with sincere musicianship that other artists have no chance of achieving. Dominik successfully captures the creativity Cave possesses but also the wave of emotions and strains within his personal life that impact it. Individuality is so key to the lyrics in Cave’s work.
What an individual understands, what they lose and how they respond to it is a unique experience. While it is impossible to understand the process of another, there comes a glimmer of reason. Scattershot slivers, those finer moments that give way to something amiss, something delicate fracturing and coming apart at the seams. This Much I Know To Be True is a manifestation of those delicate shattering. Take a recent trauma or setback, and muse on what was done to overcome it. What is currently working, what isn’t, to make it seem bearable. Cave retrained as a ceramicist. The manifestation works, the understanding does not. This Much I Know To Be True is delicate, serious and intimate. Heart-wrenching for those that need it, and engaging for those that love Cave’s work.