A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nike Drake, 2000, 3 stars

Too Few  is just enough

From The Orlando Weekly, 2001

English singer-songwriter Nick Drake led a melancholy, isolated existence, and his haunting, ethereal ballads reflected that isolation. A Skin Too Few: The Days of Nick Drake successfully captures his melancholy in a dream-like style by using floating landscapes, waves of music and the simple yet poignant words of those who knew him to create a tapestry of the once-forgotten musician.

Instead of telling the story of Drake’s life, this short documentary recreates his moods by making us feel his spirit. Drake made only three albums, was never a big success and died unappreciated and alone from an overdose of anti-depressants at the age of 26. Only recently have audiences discovered his unearthly folk melodies and crisp classical guitar. Five Leaves Left, his first album, established his reputation as a romantic songwriter of conscience by fusing contemplative lyrics of lost youth and alienation with a folk-like Pink Floyd sound, a couple of years before Drake’s own producer, Joe Boyd, brought fame to that British band.

Director Jeroen Berkvens leaves much of Drake’s story untold, partially because the musician was such a mystery, confiding in few and spending most of his life, apart from his years at Cambridge, living quietly in his parents’ house.  His sister and a few of his fellow musicians try their best to shed light on his life, but in the end, it’s his music and the serene scenes of the England he grew up in that do the storytelling. Despite being a bit flat at times and not taking us through all the highs and lows Drake experienced, the film succeeds by bringing us close to its subject, leaving us wanting more and not being afraid to be subtle.