Bob Dylan. The man, the myth, the legend. The enigmatic character who became the poet of an entire generation. A shape-shifting chameleon who will leave anyone who attempts to unravel his life's story as confused, if not more so, at the end than when they began. He also is the subject of I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' experimental biography that seeks to disentangle the various personae of the artist.
If you are new to Dylan, or are curious about the man and his music, this is not the ideal place to start. You would probably be better served by D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back or Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.
I'm Not There is an experimental film from director Todd Haynes that attempts to distill Bob Dylan's various personae into baser elements and allow the audience to take each of these elements and recombine them into a composite of the artist. To that end, Haynes has six actors play each of these distillations, and none of them are named Bob Dylan.
I am not sure how these other names were arrived at, or if it even matters. There is Marcus Carl Franklin as Woody Guthrie, a young black child traveling the rails, learning to sing, play, and write folk songs. Ben Whishaw is Arthur Rimbaud, appearing in some interview segments. Christian Bale is Jack Rollins, the voice of a generation. Heath Ledger is Robbie Clarke, movie star. Richard Gere appears as Billy the Kid. Finally Cate Blanchett is Jude Quinn. She delivers the finest performance of the film; it is hard to look away when she is on camera.
I am afraid I don't really get this film. I guess that is partially my fault; I cannot lay any claim to being a Bob Dylan fan. Well, that may be overstating things. I have listened to some of his work and find him to be an amazing songwriter and an intriguing personality. I have had the pleasure of seeing him perform live a couple of times over the past few years; both times were extraordinary experiences. Still, I can't say that I have much knowledge of the man's life and times. That becomes an issue when watching I'm Not There.