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David Lynch: The Art Life — film review

David Lynch
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

By the end of David Lynch: The Art Life, do you know David Lynch: maker of weird films any better?

Hardly. Not that it matters, though. The 90 minutes dig into David Lynch’s childhood right up the director’s 1977 debut film, Eraserhead, is hollowed out by satisfyingly detached anxiety you come to expect from one of his own efforts. Oppressive soundtrack and uncomfortable camera angles, insects and eeriness, the whole surreal shebang.

Dark fantastic dreams

Lynch narrates his own story, anecdote by dreamy anecdote. Overlaid is present-day footage of him loitering around his Hollywood home, whipping up a ton of creepy-looking collages and smoking only slightly less. While lavish amounts of early home further web together the past.

But hopes for an entry point from Lynch into how his warped films ever came about leave you unstuck. It’s a good halfway through before the first inklings of filmmaking – it’s all disturbing paintings until then – even surface. This is a straightforward telling of the whats, not the whys, of Lynch’s formative years.

Moving painting with sound

Revelations are left wanting. In fact the biggest disclosure is that he had a happy, vanilla upbringing for a chap who deals in serial oddities.

At one point he recalls walking out of a Bob Dylan concert because he wasn’t feeling it, causing an argument with his incredulous friend. Likewise, you’d have to be half-dead inside the corpse of a dissected beetle not to feel anything about one of the greatest cinematic minds of the past 40 years after watching The Art Life. And if you don’t, how very Lynchian.

David Lynch: The Art Life (cert 15) is out in selected UK cinemas now