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Dec 13, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: I'm Not There

You might not know this, but I was named after Bob Dylan (see my Blogger profile). As such, it should come as little surprise that I'm a fan of the man's work, though I wouldn't classify myself as a fanatic. That said, imagine my surprise when my parents (whom Mrs. Fletch and I attended the film with on Thanksgiving) understood less of this highly artsy, ambitious, ambiguous film than I did.

In case you haven't heard, this is probably one of the strangest "bio-pics" ever made, in that it's entirely about its subject while simultaneously not even mentioning his name or featuring a character by the name of Bob Dylan. Instead, 6 actors portray a "role" that Dylan "played" at one point or another in his life (just like I'm currently playing "quotes" guy).

All well and good, and possibly even comprehensible, if that were taken on its own. Unfortunately, that's not the case, as director Todd Haynes complicates matters by jumbling the six (or more?) narratives around each other, leaving just about any viewer in the theater highly confused as to what the hell is going on for at least the first 15 minutes of the film (there I go again being dumb, I suppose).

After some adjustments made to your perception, and with the concept sinking in, the film indeed picks up the pace, bouncing around from the story of a young troubadour (early Dylan, played by Christian Bale) to plugged-in Dylan (Cate Blachett) to high-concept Western Dylan (Richard Gere) and so on.

You've no doubt heard that Blanchett steals the show (she'll earn an Academy Award nom guaranteed, and is likely to win). Indeed she does, though I was also impressed with Heath Ledger, playing the family man Dylan of the 70s. Hiding behind sunglasses much of the time, his Dylan is a man seemingly at odds with himself, raging an internal battle between the love for his wife and kids and his need to play when the cat's away.

Each individual story taken on its own, however, really isn't meaty, showing glimpses of the man's history rather than telling their own story (the Gere one probably comes closest, about a town destined for destruction and a wanted man trying to be noble). But that's really not the point - after all, all Dylan ever did was give his fans and the world glimpses of who he was and what he stood for, so why should a bio of the man be any different. Nevertheless, despite its ambition, one can't help but see a film that alienates a large percentage of its audience as a noble failure. For serious Dylanheads only.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

3 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: I'm Not There"

Mrs Fletch said...

Since Mrs. Fletch is not really a huge Bob Dylan fan, she was left confused but dazzled by the pretty images.

Sheamus the... said...

i was originally excited about this one but am slowly losing interest.

ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

Yo - Uz wrong Homes. Uz wrong.