Film Review: One More Time With Feeling

Hugo Unwin | Kinofilia Australia

In One More Time With Feeling Director Andrew Dominik uses an innovative range of cinematic techniques to face the challenge of depicting tragedy in human terms. The film documents musician Nick Cave as he recorded and performed his sixteenth studio album Skeleton Tree. Both the film and album evoke a sense of time now gone, of being in neither the future or past, nostalgia and contentedness, an intensely powerful human experience.

Naturally, loss features heavily, however Cave's particular loss is revealed delicately, as over an hour in the uninitiated viewer learns its' details. (Much of Skeleton Tree was written prior to the tragedy, which unnervingly substantiates Cave's wife Susan Bick’s superstitious beliefs about the prophetic nature of Cave’s music). In a poignant moment Cave, surrounded by his studio and all its attendant demands, embraces his family in a well-rehearsed routine borne of repetition.

The reverence of the camera throughout One More Time conjures comparison with films such as Cameraperson. The whole-body experience of a swirling long-shot, drifting throughout the studio and surrounding countryside, reflects a ‘drone-age’ trend in post-cinema, epitomised by a corporal and experiential viewing style. Cave’s son Earl, brandishing a camera, is momentarily empowered as photos of him are flashed in colour, thereby giving agency to the photographic devices.

Beyond loss, One More Time touches on regret: ‘I should’ve strengthened my voice, I should’ve sung more before I came into the studio, I knew that at the time’, a universal feeling which connects Cave and the viewer. No matter your experience and skill, mistakes arise.

The second half of the film imbues the scenes of Cave’s domestic life with his narrated poetry, replete with musings on consequences seen and unforeseen.

The origins, influences and manifestations of creativity are often the subject of Cave's musings. In One More Time we also see the perspective of those close to him, as Bick appositely states that her work has become an outlet for grief. Conversely, Cave describes the difficulty that he has in conjuring the imagination 'when trauma takes up so much space’.

Dominik effectively interweaves the real and imagined to reflect Cave’s deep and binding belief in the importance of the subconscious to creativity. With a range of methods, Dominik succeeds in focussing on Cave’s positivity, ensuring that the moments of his darkly sardonic humour shine through, perpetuating the vision of Cave as a deeply intelligent, erudite and self-aware individual. This resistance to descend into a purely elegiac profile makes for a touching piece of cinema.