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Six incarnations of Bob Dylan: an actor, a folk singer, an electrified troubadour, Rimbaud, Billy the Kid, and Woody Guthrie. Put Dylan's music behind their adventures, soliloquies, interviews, marriage, and infidelity. Recreate 1960s documentaries in black and white. Put each at a crossroads, the artist becoming someone else. Jack, the son of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, finds Jesus; handsome Robbie falls in love then abandons Claire. Woody, a lad escaped from foster care, hobos the U.S. singing; Billy awakes in a valley threatened by a six-lane highway; Rimbaud talks. Jude, booed at Newport when he goes electric, fences with reporters, pundits, and fans. He won't be classified. Written by
During the Los Angeles home sequences, Claire's/Robbie's telephone number has a 310 area code, which was introduced November 2, 1991. The area code should be 213. See more »
There he lies. God rest his soul, and his rudeness. A devouring public can now share the remains of his sickness, and his phone numbers. There he lay: poet, prophet, outlaw, fake, star of electricity. Nailed by a peeping tom, who would soon discover...
A poem is like a naked person...
Todd Haynes ("Velvet Goldmine", "Far from Heaven") created a non-linear, truly original film, that must be seen by every Bob Dylan lover. Haynes's tapestry is "inspired by the music and lives of Bob Dylan" - he introduces us to 6 different Dylans: Jack Rollins (Christian Bale), Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin), Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett), Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger), Billy the Kid (Richard Gere) and Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw), interweaving their stories in a groundbreaking narrative slightly similar to Todd Solondz's unsettling, caustic "Palindromes" (2004), in which several very different actresses (and a boy) play a 13 year-old pregnant girl.
While "Across the Universe" illustrated The Beatles' fantastic songs with simple, adorable characters in a psychedelic rhythm, but with little character development (not that I'm complaining: I absolutely love to see visual masters like Baz Luhrmann or Julie Taymor on fire, since their self-indulgence creates wonderful sensorial pieces), "I'm Not There" is much more complex: it's deeper than conventional biopics ("Ray", "Walk the Line"), and much smarter than exploitative flicks (the atrocious "Factory Girl"). Haynes crafted a unique film that's a feast for the eyes (thanks to cinematographer Ed Lachman, "The Virgin Suicides", who also co-directed the disgusting "Ken Park" with Larry Clark), ears (Dylan's music is always a pie in the sky) and mind (it'll make you admire the man even more, and it doesn't even need to be an ass-kissing biopic to succeed on that).
The cast is heterogeneous and solid, but I think critics are overrating Cate Blanchett for the sheer fact that she's playing a man (which makes things more challenging for her, indeed), when she's not really better than most of the cast; a good performance for sure, but I was much more impressed by Christian Bale and the young revelation Marcus Carl Franklin. Julianne Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Michelle Williams play some important women from Dylan's life, and the always underrated Bruce Greenwood has a small but interesting part. All in all, this isn't a film that will enjoy big commercial success, and it's probably too artsy (although, not in a bad way) to get the Academy's top prize (even though Blanchett's performance and, maybe, Haynes's magnificent directing/writing, will probably be remembered), but it's a real gem for those who want to see something really exciting and original. As for myself, I'm thankful to Haynes and his audacious, faithful producer Christine Vachon (this woman rocks, and in a perfect world, she'd have all the money that a certain Jerry Bruckheimer possesses), who always dare to blow us away - something rare, these days. Fascinating. 10/10.
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