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I’M NOT THERE

Director: TODD HAYNES

U.S.A.-GERMANY • 2007 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 135 MIN


TODD HAYNES’ AUDACIOUS NEW MOVIE RECKONS BOB DYLAN’S LIFE AND MUSIC HAS BEEN THROUGH SO MANY PHASES IT’S AS IF THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF HIM—SO WHY NOT HAVE SEVERAL ACTORS PLAYING HIM AT DIFFERENT TIMES?

In fact, the remarkable cast in this kaleidoscopic cultural portrait actually embody various personae existing at a tangent to the Dylan we think we know, thus the dazzlingly brilliant Cate Blanchett, all drainpipe jeans and lippy attitude, is ‘Jude’ (’67 UK tour Bob), teenage black actor Marcus Carl Franklin is ‘Woody’ (boxcar-leaping youthful Bob), and Christian Bale is ‘Jack’ (Greenwich Village folkie Bob). At one remove further, Heath Ledger’s ‘Robbie’ is actually the star of a Hollywood biopic about Bale’s character (but delivers complacent megastar Woodstock-era Bob), while Richard Gere’s western recluse ‘Billy’ tips his cap to the Bob who scored Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid’, but could as easily be a living embodiment of the fabulist old-timey world of the songs themselves.

Utterly fascinating it is too, even for Dylan neophytes (who’ll get an earful of his best material, astutely chosen), since it’s like examining rock’s back pages by constructing a playfully accurate alternative history thereof. With a time-line that moves two-steps-forward, one-step-back, it’s a film which credits its audience with a lot of intelligence but also offers so much to enjoy. Ultimately, it’s about the fruitless task of trying to define anyone, not least this slipperiest modern musical genius, but as anti-biopics go it’s filled with artful affection—and makes just about every other movie you’ve seen this year look one-dimensional by comparison.—Trevor Johnston.

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