Jan 7, 2008

I'm Not There

I'm Not There is a unique creation, although perhaps not a great film. It is certainly full of magical moments, enough to make it an essential movie to see, whether you are a Dylan fan or not. Having said that, it will certainly help if you are an appreciator of Dylan's music or at least have a rudimentary knowledge of his life. If you somehow have missed the boat on the magnificence that is Dylan's music, but still appreciate the endless possibilities of the cinema screen, then you are sure to derive joy from this work.

Director Todd Haynes' has crafted a very personal and at times inspirational reflection on the life and songs of Bob Dylan. Light years from being a biopic, he has created six personas that reflect the life of Dylan, all of them carrying names other then that of the master songwriter. The strongest characterisation, and best acted, is Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn. Quinn represents Dylan at the height of his powers in 1965 and '66, the times of his controversial Newport appearance and his tempestuous tour of England. Filmed in beautiful Black and White, Blanchett is sublime in her portrayal of a man on the edge, at times cynical, alternately vulnerable. The scenes with a combative British journalist (Bruce Greenwood) are particularly revealing. My other favourite portrayal was Marcus Carl Franklin as "Woody Guthrie", who I thought represented all the influences and youth of Dylan, portrayed as young hobo singer riding the rails and soaking up the musical influences around him. Christian Bale plays Jack Rollins, a "Dylan" of the early sixties, singing protest songs in New York. This part of the film is enacted in Mockumentary style, which is partially effective. If this seems a little confusing, stay with me. Heath Ledger plays Robbie Clark, a fiery and passionate actor who kicked off his career playing Rollins in a film. His portion of the story jumps between 1964 and 1975, as his marriage to an artist (Charlotte Gainsbourg) flounders through this period. This part of the film didn't always satisfy, as I found it hard to connect with the characters in full. Finally Richard Gere as "Billy the Kid" was uneven in its portrayal, but this section also produced stunning magic as he visits Riddle, a small carnival town, full of strange and mystical people. In one scene Jim James (My Morning Jacket) sings "Goin' to Apapulco" at a funeral. It is enough to melt your heart. I'm Not There is truly hard to sum up. It will mean many things to many people. Some parts are indecipherable and confusing. But that adds to the allure. It gives you a great sense of the feeling and life of Dylan, leaving your imagination to fill in the gaps. I think this could have been the director's purpose, his imagination is in full flow, so maybe the audience can go on the same journey. There are so many beautiful images and the soundtrack is glorious, so I am sure for those who enjoy the cinematic experience, it will be rewarding.


  • At January 08, 2008 , Anonymous film dude said...

    its funny seeing him as bob dylan, i can't help thinking "batman" or maybe "machinist"

  • At January 09, 2008 , Anonymous dave g said...

    Of course, Dylan never actually had a childhood as a hobo on the train-tracks soaking up influences. This was one of his earliest creations. In fact he wasn't even into folk music as a youngster, which makes the child Dylan character ironic - kind of like Dylan's life as seen through his own tall stories. In fact (though I haven't actually seen the film yet) what seems cool about this movie is that it's somewhat like what Dylan himself might come up with if writing a movie of his life. His 70s movie "Renaldo & Clara" being an interesting comparison point, where Dylan plays Renaldo & someone else plays Bob Dylan.

  • At January 11, 2008 , Blogger The Constant Skeptic said...

    I have to see this


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