I'm Not There


Directed by: Todd Haynes
Written by:Todd Haynes
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Ben Whishaw, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin, Heath Ledger
Released: December 26, 2007
Grade: A-

In most cases, it’s best to know nothing about a movie before you go and see it.  That way, you have no preconceptions about whether it’s any good and you also have no idea how it will turn out (as this is usually given away in the trailers).  An exception to this rule is the new Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven) film, I’m Not There.

Haynes’s film (which he co-wrote with Oren Moverman) is based on the life of musician Bob Dylan.  It is anything but conventional.  Firstly, six different actors play Bob Dylan.  They are Ben Whisaw, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Marcus Carl Franklin and Cate Blanchett.  Secondly, the name Bob Dylan is never mentioned once.  These six actors all have different names in the film – for example, the version of Dylan that Cate Blanchett plays is called Jude Quinn.

Confused yet?  Just wait until you see how the film constructed.  It’s like something out of a David Lynch movie.  The stories are fragmented and some don’t seem to make a lot of sense.  There’s no order to any of the events either – we jump back and forth in time (and between actors) on a continual basis.  I think the whole nature of the film is summed by a line from the trailer – “Inspired by the true, false, authentic, exaggerated, real, imagined stories of the greatest artist, agitator, poet, fighter, genius, radical of our time.”

It may sound strange but I really enjoyed I’m Not There.  It’s a challenging movie-going experience.  As I mentioned earlier, it’s probably best that you know the above background information before seeing it.  Otherwise it may be a bit confusing.

What impressed me most was the way in which Todd Haynes has approached the film and tried to make something original.  In the past few years, we’ve seen the lives of musicians such as Ray Charles and Johnny Cash brought to the screen with critical acclaim.  I enjoyed both Ray and Walk The Line but they felt formulaic.  They each told the same kind of story and you knew what would happen next.  The same can’t be said for I’m Not There.   

I haven’t gone into a lot of detail regarding the plot but there’s no point.  You’ll see what I mean when you see the film.  Most of the “buzz” has been surrounding the performance of Cate Blanchett.  It’s hard to imagine a female playing Bob Dylan but Blanchett is the most realistic of the six actors.  There’s been Oscar talk ever since the movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival back in September.

Fans of Bob Dylan will probably take more from the film than those knowing very little about him (which is the category I fall into).  There’s probably a heap of stuff that I haven’t picked up on.  Still, I’m giving the movie a strong recommendation to anyone who has an appreciation for creative filmmaking.