David Lynch: The Art Life (2016)

8 Feb

The Art Life

I had heard only good things about Jon Nguyen’s exposé of David Lynch’s formative years, but all in all David Lynch: The Art Life left me feeling no closer to the man who is as enigmatic as the cowboy from Mulholland Drive

The documentary starts of promising enough. Viewers are treated to the many meandering stories of Lynch’s childhood by the man himself, and the three directors (yes three), do a commendable job of weaving the moments of significance together in a fair approximation of the Lynchian way. No story is ever complete, nor ends tidied up in an effort to disquiet the audience and leave them thinking, rather than knowing about the man who has carved a career out of purposeful obfuscation.

When we finally reach the beginning of his film career, having dilly dallied through his every artistic fancy thus far, the cracks in The Art Life first begin to appear. Where so much time has been devoted to inconsequential incidences that may or may not have found their way into his work; we suddenly find the birth of his first child, and the dissolution of his first long term relationship skipped over in the puff of a cigarette. The constant smoking too, begins to tug at the seams of the work, threatening to undo it and out it for the hollow vanity project it really is. And herein lies the problem; though there may be three directors behind the film, one gets the distinct impression that there is only really one director here- the one puffing away in front of the camera.

For all its Lynchian ambition, The Art Life barely delivers any genuine artistry, and only offers scanty insight into its subject. That may be for the best. Were we to know the machinations of Lynch’s mind, perhaps his films would lose some of their magic.

Ed.

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