I'M NOT THERE
The stories of six central characters (plus a young Dylan), all of whom embody and are inspired by the life and work of Bob Dylan, play out separately, and, in different ways, intersect. For more than four decades, fans all over the world have searched for the man behind the myth and the music. During his restless career, Dylan produced over 40 albums and sold over 90 million copies but stayed notoriously private. Each day some 20,000 songs of his are downloaded legally around the world.
Review by Howie Green:
For the casual fan of the occasional Bob Dylan tune, Todd Haynes' new movie I'm Not There will be an incomprehensible and unwatchable mishmash. But, for those of us who are life-long rabid fans of dear Bob, the movie is a wholly original, off-the-wall, witty and genius bit of filmmaking. But it's too long. Clocking in at well over two hours in length, the film could easily lose half an hour without harming it in any way.
The premise is that the movie is a biography of Dylan inspired by the music and many public personas that Dylan had created in his long and varied career. The film presents different phases of Dylan's life. In each, he is played by a different actor - each called by a different name, none of them Bob Dylan:
•The Young Romantic Boy Dylan (1959-61, played by Marcus Carl Franklin)
•The Prophet Dylan (1962-64, Christian Bale)
•The Enigma Dylan (1965, Ben Whishaw)
•The Innovator Dylan (1966, Cate Blanchett)
•The Restless Lover Dylan (1964-73, Heath Ledger)
•The Spiritualist Dylan (1979-81, Bale again),
•The Lone Gun Dylan (1976 - current, Richard Gere), or "Billy" (a nod to one of Dylan's few acting roles, in Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid)
Without a predictable narrative storyline, the movie cuts back and forth between these characters and, due to it's extreme length, often loses it's way and confuses just exactly who we're watching and at what point in time. For anyone familiar with the ins and outs of Dylan's career, the film includes all the high points and some of the low ones as metaphors and allegories. Director Haynes is too perverse to present anything directly, so Dylan's film roles, album cover images and the many performer masks he wore on stage are all integrated into the film as background, foreground and set pieces. The movie is often spellbinding and visually inventive and Cate Blanchett is simply mind-boggling as Jude. Most of the soundtrack of Dylan songs are performed by the actors and other contributing artists with actual recordings of Dylan singing his songs woven throughout the movie (though the two-disc soundtrack is nearly all covers).
This film is unique because it's the first where Dylan has given his permission for his likeness and music to be used, unlike in the recent Edie Sedgwick biopic Factory Girl, with the Dylan role played beautifully by Hayden Christiansen, but Dylan's name is never used because he reportedly was unhappy about how he would be portrayed. So if you are a fan of dear Bob's then this film is highly recommended, with the warning that it is one or two vignettes too long. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy this enchanting vision by Todd Haynes, one of the most creative and imaginative filmmakers working today.
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I'M NOT THERE (M)
CAST: Cate Blanchett, Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin, Heath Ledger, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bruce Greenwood, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams
PRODUCER: John Goldwyn, Jeff Rosen, John Sloss, James D. Stern, Christine Vachon
DIRECTOR: Todd Haynes
SCRIPT: Todd Haynes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Edward Lachman
EDITOR: Jay Rabinowitz
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Judy Becker
RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 26, 2007