Like a rolling stone, Todd Haynes' cinematic insinuations of Bob Dylan gather
no moss, moving through nearly two and a half hours running time with seven
characters who artistically profile no one bearing the name of the iconic
pop legend who still does his thing. Six actors are cast for the task.
For clarity's sake, listing the characters seen in "I'm Not There" can aid
the less familiar with Mercurial Bob.
1961 - Dylan arrives in New York with his Guthriesque backstory. Played by
young, black actor Marcus Carl Franklin, who is definitely bound for glory.
1965 - In a standout performance, an androgynous Cate Blanchett is Jude,
the film's only look-alike Dylan, during the "Blonde on Blonde" period.
He's/She's hanging with Ginsberg and John, Paul, George and Ringo.
1965 - Ben Whishaw as Arthur is Dylan on the grill in L.A. for why protest
composing has ceased; all in black in white.
Marcus Carl Franklin
1973-A Fellini-inspired segment hooks up with "The Basement Tapes," "John
Wesley Hardin" and Sam Peckinpah's "Pat Garrett and the Billy the Kid." Richard
Gere does Billy in a town full of circus people with a giraffe in the back
pasture. (My fave.) Gere is great.
1975- "Brokeback's" Heath Ledger is Robbie, an
absorbed hunk of a film actor who has starred as Jack in a Dylanian movie.
(Got that?) Robbie suffers the weight of his of fame and marriage slippage
that allude to Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks." Charlotte Gainsbourg is a pleasure
to behold as the aggrieved spouse.
1979-Christian Bale also plays Jack, but a before-Hollywood protest singer.
Bale is seen as Pastor John, as well. He's in the pulpit revealing to Stockton,
California folks they gotta serve somebody.
Since this is an art film about Bob Dylan, none of us can expect a logically
ordered narrative. You're on your own.
The more you love Dylan the clearer it becomes. But stay tuned for the solid
scenes and fine acting as well, especially Ms. Blanchett. Gere comes in second
as a mellowed and older, wiser Billy whose death was really staged. He lives!
"I'm Not There" is full of music voiced by Dylan (on the soundtrack), sung
by actors or lip-synced to other singers who've recorded new tracks of familiar
Todd Haynes is an innovative director. Check out his superb, "Far From Heaven"
from 2002 with Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert and Patricia
Clarkson. And if you haven't seen his '87 mock doc ('starring' Ken and Barbie)
"Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story," you've got a treat (not to mention
a trick) in store. The only thing that could be further out would be if Haynes
were to create clips that show Bob Dylan and Karen Carpenter singing a duet.