Sunday, January 6, 2008

I'm Not There

Sadly, I am now attempting to review a movie that I do not have the proper knowledge base to completely understand. Outside of recognizing the name Bob Dylan, I have no real understanding of his life or career and because of that I’m Not There just thoroughly confused me. Don’t get me wrong, it was worth seeing and contained some great performances but in the end I barely get what I just saw.

So instead of the cookie cutter biography movie that starts with the character's youth then tells a story with key moments accompanied by their famous tracks, I’m Not There has 6 folks portraying different versions of Bob Dylan. That is about how far my understanding of the plot goes. I don’t know why there is an 11 year-old black kid riding trains, or why Richard Gere was riding horses in the 19th century, but I will assume that it would make sense if I listened to Dylan’s music. I sure as hell hope so because I don’t really see any other way for that to make sense. Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw were a bit more recognizable to me as versions of Dylan during his career. Maybe. So if you haven’t figured out by now, I am not comfortable passing any sort of judgment on the story due to my own ignorance.

But hey, even if I don’t know where the character comes from I am able to compliment the work of the performers. And the main two that I want to write about are Blanchett and Ledger. I would like to include Bale in my praise but the majority of his sections involved him singing. His singing was fine but his character's segments revolved more around people talking about him while he sang in the background. Sadly we didn’t get a Batman vs. Joker preview since Bale and Ledger were never onscreen at the same time. Still, Heath Ledger did some really good work here and that is becoming expected of the man which I think we all saw coming in 10 Things I Hate About You. But if I had to choose a standout performance I would give it to Cate Blanchett. I don’t know how good her mimicry of Dylan was but whatever she was doing here was amazing. She just dominated every second she was being filmed. Maybe it was because she got to play with the more flashy material yet everything she did just shined. Just the looks she would give while being interviewed were crazy. It would have been nice to know what was going on since it was clear that she was reenacting stuff that happened during that specific part Dylan’s career. Then again, I can say that for the entirety of I’m Not There.

When I sit here and try to think about I'm Not There I get the feeling that Todd Haynes got lost in the details. Its obvious that he is a fan of Bob Dylan's work but he ended up creating a movie where only people with his level of understanding can truly appreciate. Ah well, sometimes that's what you get with independent films.

7 out of 10