I’M NOT THERE (2007) (***1/2)

6 05 2008
Check Out the Trailer
Check Out the Trailer

Bob Dylan is an enigma, and that is exactly what one could call Todd Haynes’ film that contemplates the seemingly contradictory sides of the famed singer’s personality. Haynes has always been a filmmaker who takes risks from his unsettling SAFE to his pseudo-Bowie biopic VELVET GOLDMINE to his Douglas Sirk, 1950s melodrama-like FAR FROM HEAVEN. Now he contemplates the many aspects of Dylan, leaving the audience thinking (maybe even confused).

Six difference actors play six different Dylan-like characters. The various stories are woven together and a few even intersect. We begin with an 11-year-old African-American boy hitching a ride on a train calling himself Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin, TV’s LACKAWANNA BLUES). He’s traveling the country playing ’40s blues and acting like it isn’t 1959, avoiding the social turmoil of the times. Next we meet 19-year-old poet Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw, PERFUME) cagily avoiding definition during an interview. In a documentary-like segment, we learn about the career of influential folk singer Jack Rollins (Christian Bale, BATMAN BEGINS), who hasn’t done an interview in years since be converted to Christianity. Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN) is a womanizing actor who became famous playing Jack Rollins. We see him during two periods in his life — meeting abstract artist Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg, THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP) and then watching as their marriage falls apart as Vietnam ends. Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett, ELIZABETH) is an arrogant star that has turned his back on folk music and plugged in. During a tour in London with The Beatles, he challenges reporter Keenan Jones (Bruce Greenwood, CAPOTE) on his lack of caring about “finger-pointing” songs. Finally, in an almost dreamlike sequence, Billy the Kid (Richard Gere, CHICAGO) wonders the countryside trying to find freedom.

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