So strange and bizarre are the films of David Lynch that they had to invent a word to describe them.

That same term, "Lynchian", can be applied to his work as a painter. His art, twisted and nightmarish paintings of splotch-stained, long-limbed, grotesque caricatures haunting flat boring hum-drum settings, is every bit as surreal and disturbing as his motion pictures. They are also mostly concerned with the same pre-occupations.

This unfussy documentary, narrated by Lynch himself, goes a long way to explaining the circumstances and forces that wired his brain the way it is.

It starts with Lynch recalling his earliest childhood memory, sitting in a mud bath with his best friend on a hot day, and ends right as he finishes making his breakthrough directorial debut Eraserhead.

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For Lynch, it seems, life was always a strange and uneasy place to be. No matter how sunny the afternoon or how much fun he was having, crazy was right around the corner.

In his measured tones he recounts various unnerving tales from his life; a naked lady covered in blood running up his childhood street, the racist neighbour in his apartment building that smelt like urine, the woman he lived near who thought she was a chicken and would cluck and squawk in her garden at night ... all things considered it's a wonder he turned out as well adjusted as he did.

David Lynch narrates his story in the documentary David Lynch: The Art Life
David Lynch narrates his story in the documentary David Lynch: The Art Life

Most of all, however Lynch talks with passion about his desire to live "the art life" as a painter, and the years he spent working and studying that craft. It was through art that the idea of "moving paintings ... with sound" would come to him and then dictate his cinematic approach.

The doco is packed with rare and archival photos and videos of Lynch, his family and his work, including his fascinatingly horrific early short films, and also shows him at work in his home studio in the Hollywood Hills, cigarettes, soft drink and his young daughter never to far away.

For Lynch fans it's hugely insightful, for everyone else it's simply a fascinating look into a fascinating mind.

Cast:

David Lynch

Director:

Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm

Rating:

M (Offensive language)

Running time:

84 mins

Verdict:

Portrait of the artist as a young artist by the artist.