I’m not there. (Todd Haynes, 2007)


I’m not there., directed by Todd Haynes (2007),

Score: deeply poetic.

See, this is what I was talking about when I complained about A quiet passion.

I’m not there. is a freeform biopic graviting the figure of music legend and Nobel laureate Bob Dylan. Six different actors approach the artist from six different angles: Woodie Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin), a young black boy travelling the country, represents Dylan’s origins and influences; Jack Rollins (Christian Bale) is the young, folk-singer Dylan who later converts to Christianity and explores gospel music; Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett) is the electric, insanely famous, alleged sellout Dylan; Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger) is an actor who plays Jack Rollins in the in-universe biopic Grain of Sand and who struggles with his relationship with his wife Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg); Billy the Kid (Richard Gere) lives in a Western movie in the little town of Riddle and represents the elder, recluse Dylan; Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw) ties them all together as the figure of the poet and the bohemian, using aphorisms and quotes from the real Dylan.

A biopic always implies a personal vision of the subject person, so why try to pretend objectivity? I’m not there. is a dialogue between Haynes and his experience of Dylan, and intending to make anyone believe that a biopic can be anything other than that is a plain lie. I’m not there. strives to capture the multifaceted essence of Dylan’s art and doesn’t bother so much with the historical events: the straight biographical approach is completely exhausted after rise, fall and optimistic-ending efforts such as Ray and Walk the line.

I’m not a fan of Dylan as of now (though this movie has controbuted to my interest in him), so I don’t really have an opinion on the man. The only thing I know is the film shows the reluctant leader of thought, the wanderer, the visionary poet, the decadent rock star, the arrogant celebrity, the womanizer, the failed husband, the middle-class bohemian, the sensitive soul, the voice of a generation and the chainsmoker, and they are all true and a construct at the same time. It’s a profoundly poetic movie: the song lyrics are intertwined with the verse-ridden dialogue and the evocative images: music is poetry and poetry is music, feeling and reflection. Cate Blanchett is simply stunning.

All in all, a bold and brave biopic that actually makes an effort to capture the spirit of the subject, enter a dialogue with him and present him to the world. Delightful to watch.

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