David Lynch The Art Life review: A must for devotees, this new feature-length documentary that is utterly fascinating and hypnotically watchable.
David Lynch The Art Life review by Andrew Gaudion.
David Lynch has often avoided the limelight, particularly when it comes to discussing the meaning behind his work. In fact, he’ll never discuss the meaning of his work, often declaring that he doesn’t want to infer on the readings of his audience, leaving it to us to establish our own readings and meanings from the images being offered to us. It is one of the main reasons that Lynch has so many devoted fans, this reviewer amongst them.
It this reason, the rich ambiguity of his work, why a documentary focusing on the man himself is something to be approached with caution. It is tantalising to be offered the chance to get closer to the man, but it could be at the risk of discovering too much about the mysterious imagery involved in Lynch’s work. Thankfully, The Art Life is very aware of such a relationship and has clearly been crafted by individuals who respect the hell out of Lynch, producing a documentary which seeks to humanise him rather than offer a reading on how his life has affected his work.
The Art Life, which began its own life as a Kickstarter project, has been compiled from 20 different conversations with Lynch discussing his youth, his education, and his struggle with finding his path, and coming to a close at the production of Eraserhead (1977). Much of his more popular work isn’t even touched upon. Instead we are met with intimate footage of Lynch at home working on new paintings and sculptures, with home video footage, early experimental work and family photographs intercut throughout the his mesmeric recollections.
We are being shown a man as he works, as he tries to remember key events in his life, often blurry on the details but very concise when it comes to recalling how certain moments and images of his past made him feel. It is in these moments where we are offered the chance to link certain tales with images we associate with Lynch, be it as he recalls a tale of seeing a woman naked for the first time or his recounting of visiting a morgue. But never are we led to directly associate these moments with his work; the associations we make are ours and ours alone.
Due to the nature in which it operates, The Art Life is an utterly fascinating and hypnotically watchable documentary. The serene cinematography, pulsating score, coupled with a rich tapestry of Lynch’s art (both new and early) makes this the documentary equivalent of crack cocaine for the Lynch-devoted. It feels like a door has been slowly opened and we have been cautiously invited inside to view the wonders (and the horrors) within. From stories of the relationships between his mother and father, to memories that clearly seem quite painful to recall, every moment spent in Lynch’s company feels like a privilege.
Delicate and vital. Calm yet enthralling. Even though thousand of people have and will see this film, and numerous people have been involved in the production of it, The Art Life feels like a personal conversation that you yourself are having with Lynch. And you cherish every word of the encounter. Unmissable.
David Lynch The Art Life review by Andrew Gaudion, July 2017.
David Lynch: The Art Life is released in UK cinemas on July 14th 2017.