America’s most idiosyncratic filmmaker was a kid once?

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

David Lynch: The Art Life|
Broadway Theatre
Opens May 5
3 out of 5

If you expect David Lynch: The Art Life to feature the filmmaker revisiting his career De Palma style, you are in for a disappointment. Instead, this documentary focuses on two of the less scrutinized aspects of his life: his career as an artist and his childhood.

While born in a caring family, some of his parents’ decisions put him in the path of uniqueness: his intellectually-inclined mother thought coloring books and other restrictive activities would stunt little David’s creativity. Also, it didn’t hurt that his neighborhood was quite close to the one he depicted in Blue Velvet.

Lynch would grow up to detest formal education and avoid it at all cost, a resolution that, at least in the beginning, would turn him into a starving artist. He would become involved with film in the most roundabout way. Initially, he thought of it as “a moving painting with sound”.

Unsurprisingly, the only one of his pictures to appear in the doc is Eraserhead.

The filmmaker’s childhood recollections are complemented with archival footage, shots of his ramshackle atelier and relevant work. Ever the surrealist, armed with a brush Lynch pushes the limits of reality further. A very large output reveals that Lynch hasn’t stopped working, even though he has been largely absent from the screen since 2006’ Inland Empire (coming next May: the third season of Twin Peaks!)

As documentaries go, David Lynch: The Art Life is bone dry. The few moments of levity are provided by Lynch’s non-sequiturs and random appearances of his four-year-old daughter. Passing fans may be turned off, but hardcore Lynch acolytes will eat this up. ❧