Movie Review: I’m Not There


I saw this 2007 movie shortly after it came out, but didn’t get to do a review at that time. I caught it again now and I must say it works better the second time. Written and directed by Todd Haynes, this is not really a movie but rather a collage of snippets designed to make sense of the legend that is Bob Dylan.

If you are a Dylonite, like I, you will enjoy this film. If you are not, you will be confused and baffled. To understand the movie I’m Not There, you almost must have read a Dylan biography or two, and you must certainly love his music. Without the two combined, I imagine it might be difficult to sit through two hours and fifteen minutes of scattered images that make no sense all by themselves, and only come together as a story of Dylan the artist, Dylan the man and Dylan the legend.

Dylan is played by six or seven different actors, portraying his life at different stages. Some are obvious, like the young artist in Greenwich Village, some are very obscure, like the sequence played by Richard Gere, showing Dylan as an actor in a Western movie. How does that fit?

Some sequences make sense, and some are completely baffling.

Then there is the music, the soundtrack, of, you guessed it, all Dylan songs. Dylan authorized the use of his music, performed by himself and others in some cases, and the music seems to fit the imagery or scenes perfectly. It seemed to me as if Haynes wanted to play all my favorite Dylan songs for me, one after the other, and entertain me with intriguing photography and off-beat scenes. Some made the laugh, like the one where Dylan is shown frolicking in the grass with the Beatles.


Dylonites: ****

All others: **

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