David Lynch: The Art Life (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, US, 2016, 89 mins

Cast: David Lynch

Review by Colin Dibben

One of a series of intimate portrayals of the great director, The Art Life is most successful when it sits back and watches David Lynch paint.

When he isn’t painting, he’s talking. His folksy monologue covers early memories, art school years and first, eventual success with Eraserhead.

At first, the talk is startling, like the child’s memory of a deranged, naked woman appearing out of the darkness on his street. But slowly these tall tales become a bit tiresome. You’ve heard them before and they are so inherently a part of the Lynchian mythology that they cloy, become weirdly sentimental.

It isn’t just that the tales have been told and heard many times; the incessant anecdotalising means that Lynch comes across as a bit self-obsessed. That’s the nature of the film I guess, but the most impressive parts are when he shuts up and works.

The camera stays close as he works on board and canvas, twisting metal into distressed painted surfaces. You can hear paint sloshing and Lynch breathing. It’s almost therapeutic, except that the results are so unsettling.

David Lynch: The Art Life comes to UK cinemas from 14 July 2017.