Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm Not There Review

This review is scheduled to appear in Discorder's February issue, out in a couple weeks.

I’m Not There Review
By Andrea Warner

I’m Not There is a brilliant head-trip of a circus and the ringleader in the spotlight of this chaotic and sumptuous visual extravaganza is the man behind the many myths: Bob Dylan.

It takes a lot of parts to make up the whole of any human being, but few figures have so blatantly confounded, entranced and ultimately served to exemplify an entire generation so completely as that of Bob Dylan. Six wonderful actors dig in to the bones of his enigmatic persona, the flesh made real by a superb supporting cast, but still at the film’s end we’re wondering what it all means?

This is the beauty of a director like Todd Haynes tackling the mystery of Dylan: they share a desire to stimulate the imagination and challenge preconceived notions, creating startlingly relatable characters out of the most indulgent and unappealing human traits.

Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn is a standout amongst some truly wonderful performers, inhabiting Dylan’s most destructive and arrogant side. She finds a brilliant sparring partner in Bruce Greenwood, the BBC arts reporter eager to demystify Quinn as a self-invented narcissist from New Jersey. Each scene between them is a tense and satisfying game of cat and mouse. In Blanchett’s capable hands, every Quinn’s every sentiment is a fragile riddle that dissolves under too much scrutiny.

Marcus Carl Franklin as the 11-year-old, train-hopping child who calls himself Woody Guthrie, is an actor with great instincts and a remarkably mature voice. Heath Ledger and Charlotte Gainsbourg also shine as a couple unraveling under ego and success.

Throughout the film we’re always clawing at a never-ending glass surface that refracts images surreal and beautiful, raw and ugly, but all hauntingly honest. We’re forced to leave the theatre thinking about who we are in the grand scheme of things. Haynes, like Dylan, is a master at manipulating his audience, but we are all the richer for it.

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