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The singer-songwriter (and novelist and screenwriter) Nick Cave is a longtime chronicler of dread, erotic obsession, morality and mortality. The director Andrew Dominik, not exactly a screwball comedy guy himself (“Killing Them Softly”), proved an apt collaborator with Cave on the 2016 documentary “One More Time With Feeling.”

That film was a tricky proposition, undertaken in the wake of the 2015 death of Cave’s teenage son Arthur. It documented the making of “Skeleton Tree,” one of Cave and his band the Bad Seeds’ most moving records.

The new “This Much I Know to Be True,” shot in spring 2021 before a tour, and largely devoted to presenting songs from the recent albums “Ghosteen” and “Carnage,” is a lighter affair. It opens with Cave speaking about how he handled the pandemic: “I took the government’s advice,” he says, pausing to chuckle, “and retrained as a ceramicist.” He then shows off sculptures depicting a history of the devil.

Cave’s partner in music, the multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis, is the other main presence here. (Marianne Faithfull, a stalwart friend of Cave’s, pops in for a memorable scene.) Cave waxes droll on their collaboration: “He took a subordinate role of embellishing what was going on,” he says of Ellis, adding, “And slowly, one by one, taking out each member of the Bad Seeds. I know I’m the next to go.” More seriously, he talks about the Red Hand Files, his newsletter, a sort of metaphysical advice column, in which he exercises a compassion that he admits “doesn’t come naturally.”

Dominik shows off his own inventive playfulness here. He shifts aspect ratios from shot to shot. He lays bare cinematic contrivances by showing dolly tracks in a shot, only then to fake out the viewer with a lighting trick. A rather fun Nick Cave movie might not have been on your 2022 bingo card, but here we are.

This Much I Know to Be True
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes. Watch on Mubi.



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