Film Review: David Lynch: The Art Life

David Lynch: The Art Life

Told by the subject’s own voice, David Lynch: The Art Life is an entertaining insight into Lynch’s life and art.

Before he was a filmmaker, David Lynch was an artist. This documentary captures his early childhood memories up to working on Eraserhead, charting his interest in art and how this impacted his life…

David Lynch: The Art Life is an entertaining and informative documentary. Lynch provides narration for the piece, giving a stamp of approval to proceedings. Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm’s film combines this narrative with images from Lynch’s childhood, his early exploration into films, and of course a look at his art work.

The film paints Lynch as an artist first and foremost; his foray into films is depicted as almost accidental. Starting from early childhood memories, the subject discusses his family life, how he became engaged in art, his adolescence and early adulthood. The film covers a pivotal period in his life, ending at the making of Eraserhead. By doing so, the filmmakers are effectively saying ‘and the rest is history’. For Lynch fans, this makes perfect sense. The documentary reveals a time in his life that is not widely known, and gives some insight into the background to his successful film career.

The filmmakers view Lynch through his art work; it is the gaze through which they depict their subject. The context to his art will be interesting for fans and casual viewers alike. More amusing are the anecdotes that Lynch provides on his life at that period – these are frequently funny. Filmmakers do touch on the darkness, or peculiarity to his work, but this is discussed in the odd comment rather than being a focal point.

The film is well edited, and uses some of Lynch’s own songs as a soundtrack. As anyone who has viewed his art or seen his films will know, Lynch is a very interesting subject. Although not a definitive documentary, David Lynch: The Art Life does him justice.

David Lynch: The Art Life is being screened at London Film Festival in October 2016.