Idiosyncratic indie director Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine) turns the rock biopic formula inside out for this journey through the multi-faceted world of Bob Dylan - a shapeshifting legend who has striven his whole career to avoid categorisation. So to capture this elusive spirit, we are presented with six "different" Dylans, each representing a different phase of his varied career. You'll have your work cut out keeping track of Haynes' dotty intentions, but there remains something compelling in his mercurial art.
They might not take his name, but everyone from a 10 year-old boy (Marcus Carl Franklin) to Cate Blanchett and Richard Gere steps into Dylan's shoes. Each section intersects with the others drifting back and forth in time, to the nimble timbre of the singer's more obscure songs. Blanchett especially gives a startling performance as the 'electric Dylan' of the mid 60s, here christened Jude Quinn, perfectly aping that sinewy, awkward artist railing against his own fame. Meanwhile Gere, as the wizened older Dylan, turns up in an elegiac take on the Old West taken from Sam Peckinpah, who cast Dylan himself in Pat Garret And Billy The Kid. There is plenty of method in Haynes' madness.
"WEIRD, BRILLIANT, EXTRAORDINARY, AWKWARD AND FASCINATING"
Inevitably, for something so ambitious, it over reaches, with long sections of impenetrable whimsy (beware any film that dabbles in circus symbolism) and it rambles on for way too long. But as a description of Dylan - weird, brilliant, extraordinary, awkward and fascinating serves quite well. Which is exactly what this film is.
I'm Not There is out in the UK on 21st December 2007.