- Dir. Todd Hayes
After the multitude of biopics that have saturated the filmic calendar in recent years it was with trepidation that the critical community approached the news of a Bob Dylan inspired flick. However with controversial director Todd Haynes at the helm and the well that is Dylan’s life and work to delve into the actual movie happens to be a phenomenally wry and interesting look at the role of music in popular culture.
Writing the screenplay based on arguably one of the most influential musical artists in recent times would be a humongous task for most, but having taken the decision to split his character between 6 actors, Haynes tangentially forgoes all filmic conditioning and creates a work of art that truly astounds the viewer.
Although difficult to follow in parts, I’m not there nevertheless is an entertaining journey through the eclectic wealth of material that Dylan has produced. Unless you are a die hard Dylanite then it may be very difficult to totally comprehend the fragmented dialogue and abstract cinematography. Rapidly flicking between colourless drug fuelled escapades with Cate Blanchett and the glossy family man’s traumatic foray into promiscuity with Heath Ledger leaves a very clear image of what this film is trying to achieve: absolutely nothing.
Six actors play six characters, each with a different name, who represent different facets or incarnations of Dylan. The philosophical point of every scene is that ultimately nothing happens! The film comments on everything and nothing. It is remarkably pretentious and yet totally grounded. Dylan’s life is presented as lacking intention but with hidden desires and meaning behind everything that the various characters portray.
The movie is exquisitely subtle in every conceivable way. Although this may seem a dire reason to spend your hard earned pennies, the random scenes should at best encourage questions about societies dependence on ’the celebrity’ and at worst leave you tapping your feet to the multitude of songs chosen by Haynes. These qualities combined with sublime performances from the likes of Christian Bale, Marcus Carl Franklin and Bruce Greenwood have set the bar extremely high for films in 2008.
As vague as his film, Haynes commented that “this idea of Dylan is somebody as a kind of shape-shifter - somebody for whom change is the only constant.” A perfect summation of a movie that is incredibly hard to decipher and yet immensely enjoyable at the numerous attempts to do so with the ultimate answer being that no-one will ever be able to pin down Bob Dylan’s personality, so don’t even try.