I’m Not There is an unusual biopic in that it never refers to its subject, Bob Dylan, by name. Instead, Todd Haynes’ portrait of the singer mimics his constant reinvention by casting six separate actors to play as many reincarnations of the same soul. It’s an ingenious spin on a usually stale genre, one that liberates the film from the humdrum restrictions of a literal retelling of Dylan's life.
If there’s anyone who warrants such an inventive approach to biography, it’s Dylan, whose public and private personas are so numerous that it’s only by angling six different mirrors at him that Haynes can hope to catch some of his essence. Impressionistic editing toggles freely between these vignettes, each visually distinct: from the 11-year-old Woody Guthrie-obsessive (Marcus Carl Franklin) and the black-and-white Super 16mm-shot poet (Ben Whishaw) to the aging cowboy outlaw (Richard Gere), all by way of Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Cate Blanchett’s incarnations. To be sure, this is a somewhat challenging film, reflecting, in places, the enigmatic surrealism of Dylan’s lyrics and his refusal to be pinned down to one thing. But, as Blanchett’s embodiment says, “Mystery is a traditional fact,” and that’s no more true than of Dylan, making Haynes’ film a fascinatingly fitting spiritual biopic.
Genre: Drama, Music
Actor: Alison Folland, Andrew Shaver, Angela Galuppo, Arthur Holden, Ben Whishaw, Benz Antoine, Bill Croft, Bob Dylan, Brett Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Cate Blanchett, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Christian Bale, Danny Blanco Hall, David Cross, Don Francks, Eric Newsome, Gordon Masten, Heath Ledger, Jane Gilchrist, Jane Wheeler, Jason Cavalier, Jodie Resther, Joe Cobden, Julianne Moore, Kathleen Fee, Kris Kristofferson, Kristen Hager, Kyle Gatehouse, Larry Day, Maggie Castle, Marcus Carl Franklin, Mark Camacho, Melantha Blackthorne, Michelle Williams, Pauline Little, Peter Friedman, Richard Gere, Richard Jutras, Richie Havens, Roc LaFortune, Shawn Baichoo, Tim Post, Trevor Hayes, Tyrone Benskin, Vito DeFilippo
Director: Todd Haynes