Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of I’m Not There

I have to admit I am a sucker for a good biopic. They definitely are my favorite unsung hero of movie genres. However, this week’s movie was a really interesting take on a traditional biopic. I’m not There chronicles the many faces and personal aspects of the music legend Bob Dylan; with different actors all portraying the different character traits.

Christian Bale portrayed Jack Rollins, whose character goes from a folk singer in the West Village in New York City to a sellout because he begins to play Rock music. He later appears as a born again Christian minister. This symbolized Bob Dylan starting off in his early music career, then returning as a Born Again Christian. Heath Ledger played Robbie Clark, an actor who was portraying Bale’s character in the movie. Ledger’s character was supposed to represent Dylan as a husband and father. Cate Blanchett portrayed Jude Quinn, a musician who seemed tired of his career and people questioning his motives. This character was based on Dylan in the 60’s and detailed his friendship with Edie Sedgeweck. Richard Gere played Billy the Kid, which was supposed to represent Dylan’s own self description as an outsider. The character of Woody Guthrie is played by Marcus Carl Franklin, representing Dylan trying to find himself as a musician as well as his obsession with the Guthrie as a poet and folk singer. Finally, Ben Whishaw plays Arthur Rimbaud, who represents the poet that Bob Dylan became himself.

The best part of this film was by far the performances by the cast. It is very rare that every actor in a movie is top-notch and portraying their character perfectly, but this movie was that very rare exception. Every actor took command of the scene and didn’t just act as the character, but in a cliché way became the character. Since they were all playing different characters, portraying a different side of Bob Dylan’s personality as well was difficult to say the least. From Heath Ledger, to Christian Bale and Richard Gere, each actor made the most of the limited time they had on the screen and really made their storyline believable. I will be honest; I don’t know that much about Bob Dylan or much of his music or personal life, but the story intrigued me so much that I researched his career. I found that the personalities of the characters really fit Dylan’s biographies and the various paths his career took.

Two of the best performances in my opinion were Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn and Marcus Carl Franklin as Woody Guthrie. Blanchett, who was nominated for the best supporting actress Oscar, was incredibly believable as a man (I swear that’s a compliment). She literally became this character even down to the smallest mannerisms. Every scene she was in I found that my eyes were drawn to the screen and I literally thought I was watching a singer from the 1960’s. There are not enough adjectives to describe how incredible this performance was.

Marcus Carl Franklin has such talent for someone who was only 14 when the movie was made.  He definitely has a natural ability to act. He didn’t overdo his performance; and considering his age, I definitely see a long career ahead for him. The way he acted was not like many child actors, where they often overact in response to their perceived inferiority. He, like Cate Blanchett, stole every scene he was in and was a bright spot amongst the cast.

The one piece of criticism I do have for this movie was that it was difficult to follow at times. Due to the fact that the movie was comprised of different actors portraying characters at different times, it was very distracting and sometimes very jarring. I feel like if the story had some sort of order in which the characters were introduced and then completed their storylines that it may have worked a little better.

Even though the story was jarring at times, the performances and the overall product was incredible. Definitely a film worth checking out, but make sure you pay close attention to the movie because if you tune out for a second, you will miss a big part of the movie and find it difficult to catch up. Like always I will leave the reader with a question: how many different personalities do you think a person has? Whether they are all alike or have different personalities, but after viewing this movie you will think about it.

4 out of 5 Stars

I’m Not There (2007)
The Weinstein Company
R, 135 Minutes

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