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David Lynch: The Art Life is the Lynch narrated account of the life of the filmmaker before he became that, a filmmaker. From his bucolic upbringing in small town America (Montana, Idaho, Virginia and Idaho again) to his first steps as an artist in “New York for poor people” Philadelphia, until the scholarship from AFI that led him to make Eraserhead; after that everything changed for the young painter in the funny hat.
The whole movie is told by David Lynch sitting in a chair in front of a mike and smoking cigarettes one after the other. While he speaks, we see domestic footage of the Lynch family combined with the slow and hypnotizing process of one of the filmmaker’s artistic creations. The movie is 90 minutes long and right when you think you will start to get bored, it finishes; leaving you with quite a satisfactory feeling: it almost went wrong but it didn’t.
There is also a very rewarding feeling that comes from the question raised early on in the movie: if he wanted to be a painter so much (film isn’t mentioned at any point until quite late) how come did he ended up being the Twin Peaks, Mulholand Drive, Lost Highway and so on David Lynch we know? Well, the disturbing, creepy part shows up pretty soon: as a “sweet” anecdote, when Lynch’s father went to visit his son in Philly, and David proudly showed him his studio full of dead birds, random garbage and strange constructions, Mr. L told him: I think you should never have kids. Turns out his wife Peggy just found out she was pregnant.
Leaving the accuracy of Lynch’s father statement aside (we see a fair amount of quite tender scenes where David and his toddler daughter paint together), shortly after this, Lynch applied for an AFI grant due to his recent interest for moving images. When the scholarship was conceded, Lynch put all his money, time and effort in the creation of his first movie. And while he was discovering that the seventh art is a combination of painting, music, sculpture, architecture, poetry and performing he just found himself enjoying more than ever with his work.
Eraserhead came along and the rest is history.
Now, the truth is that the experience of watching David Lynch: The Art Life is surprisingly satisfactory. The surprisingly adverb comes after Lynch’s well-known eccentricity. Even to his most devoted fans, the genius filmmaker work is always a riddle, so it is fair to sit in the cinema chair wondering what’s this “David Lynch: The Art Life” going to be like.
Well, the truth is that is as interesting (as it explains how did one of the most prolific and creative artists get to the Olympus of filmmaking) as hypnotizing (his voice and his paintings carry us along the 90 minutes in a very smooth, pleasant and light manner).