In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon 2023

Directed by Alex Gibney Rhythms

Paul Simon is that rare popular artist who has produced vital music across seven decades. Drawing on archives and intimate new footage, this comprehensive documentary examines the creative career of a lifelong seeker.

Aug 10

The Civic

USA In English
209 minutes Colour / DCP
documentary film exempt from NZ Classification labelling requirements



Alex Gibney, David Rahtz, Erin Edeiken, Svetlana Zill


Benjamin Bloodwell


Andy Grieve


Paul Simon


Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Wynton Marsalis, Lorne Michaels, Edie Brickell


Toronto, London 2023; CPH: DOX 2024


Presented in association with


Of all the pop stars to emerge in the 1960s, none constructed their music more meticulously than Paul Simon. What’s more, Simon has remained one of the few stars of that era who has continued to make interesting new music rather than resting on a catalogue of hits. 

Director Alex Gibney illuminates Simon’s perfectionism as well as his perpetual pursuit of the unproven. “I’m looking for the edge of what you can hear,” he tells Gibney in one of the recent interviews conducted for the film. “I can just about hear it but I can’t quite. That’s the thing I want.” 

We see Simon’s processes in action, as Gibney follows him through the making of his most recent, and possibly final album, Seven Psalms. We catch him in conversation with his friend, the jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, one of the most eloquent voices in the film, and see Simon coming to terms with the debilitating effects of a recent and sudden hearing loss. “Maybe you’re supposed to have an obstacle to give you more insight into what you’re saying,” Simon wonders. 

The film shifts back and forth between this contemporary portrait of a mature artist at work and the story of how he got there. We learn about the origins of Simon’s music and how it has developed over the years, through his colossally popular but ultimately fraught partnership with Art Garfunkel, to the multi-cultural and controversial triumph of Graceland. We get glimpses of the personal life that has included a brief marriage to Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, and a long and enduring one to Texan singer Edie Brickell. And we hear a lot of his music, including some rare live performances, which serve as a reminder of the remarkable body of work he has created. — Nick Bollinger