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Movie Review: I'm Not There

Alternate Title: Highway 61, Revisited

Story: Which Bob Dylan do you identify with most? In a visually and cerebrally brilliant film, director Todd Haynes allows you to revisit many of the phases of Dylan that you will remember. Written by Haynes and Oren Moverman this is a biopic unlike any you have seen before and may certainly not be for everyone.

Never actually using Dylan's name Haynes employs six actors to represent the phases of Dylan. We get to see in a non-linear style a youthful, Woody Guthrie adoring Dylan, played by a young black boy, a maturing Greenwich Village 60's folk singer who them metamorphoses into a fictional Hollywood hip young actor with the long suffering wife and children. The most familiar Dylan to me was the folk singer turned rocker who alienated his mesmerized fans when he changed his style of music. The persona continues to grow into an evangelical and finally into an old West type bandit who sees the world changing around him and is helpless.

The six characters weave back and forth as does the visual style of each character. The music is sweeping, the dialogue mystifying, magical and at times incomprehensible. If you like your films neat, chronological and have all of the loose ends tidied up by the time the credits roll - this is not your film. If you dare to allow this unique film to wash over you - it will uplift and make you want to go home and listen to your Dylan CD's. I know I did.

I am not the same person I was when first introduced to the brilliance of Bob Dylan so how can we expect our icons to not change and grow? It is the duty of a creative soul to experiment and we are just lucky to have had Dylan's expressive spirit with us these long years.

Acting: Marcus Carl Franklin, as the young Dylan was wonderful. A fine talent in the making. Christian Bale actually plays two of the Dylan's: the 60's folk singer and the aging evangelical. He is intense and able, as always. Cate Blanchett as the rocker Dylan stole the show. She is am amazing presence on the big screen and I could not help but think how talented she is to be able to play Queen Elizabeth and Bob Dylan and not miss a beat. Brava to this one of a kind actress. Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw were all more than fine as their incarnations of Dylan. Charlotte Gainsbourg as the long suffering wife was very French. David Cross in a cameo as Alan Ginsburg was scarily channeling Ginsberg himself. Bruce Greenwood, Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams were terrific in their supporting roles as well.

Predilection: I am a big Bob Dylan fan and really like Todd Haynes' films.

Critters: Are you ready? Your usual dogs and cats, plus horses, birds, ducks, geese, llama, ostrich, cow and giraffe.

Food: More smoking and boozing than eating.

Sex Spectrum: A naked Heath Ledger and a sex scene showing Charlotte Gainsbourg's boobs.

Blatant Product Placement: Dylan's music.

Soundtrack: Fabulous.

Opening Titles: An interesting use of type over the landscape of Dylan's youth scene from a boxcar.

Visual Art: The attention to detail and file footage was wonderful.

Theater Audience: A packed house in a screening. A few people did leave before the end but many of us applauded at the film's end.

Weather: Not a factor in the word of Dylan.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 3

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Yes

Big Screen or Rental: Definitely the big screen.

Length: 15 minutes over the two hour rule.