Monday, February 02, 2009

Flick Check: I'm Not There

Flick Check: I'm Not There: A Bob Dylan bio-pic worthy of Dylan. That is to say rambling, enigmatic, vague, and pretentious, yet oddly compelling with flashes of brilliance. The movie leaps around interpreting Dylan's career, music, and personal life through a series of different actors/characters. Rightfully, the most renown was Cate Blanchett playing the rebellious folkie going electric and the experiencing the excesses of fame. She did quite a good job with the role, especially considering that the slightest misstep would have turned it into parody or novelty. The other threads coincide with flex points in Dylan's career and life (and, presumably, his precedent in the form of Woody Guthrie) but have less impact and reveal nothing that anyone familiar with Dylan doesn't already know. The fact is there are no clear themes to Dylan's life or work. He's really just being a singer and songwriter and going through the changes that life brings. Everybody thinks they see some profound storyline but there isn't one. He's not there. If that's what director Todd Haynes was going for, he succeeded.

If you never liked Dylan or saw the attraction, this movie will not awaken your interest. If you have a passing interest in Dylan or greater, it's an interesting document. I give it major points for getting through almost the entire film without playing "Like a Rolling Stone," which turns any such project into cliche. There is a brief excerpt over the final credits, but it seems tacked on and I'm betting the network suits forced that on Haynes.