Cinema Express: I’m Not There (2007)

Here’s a review of the 2007 film I’m Not There in which six different actors (including Cate Blanchett) play Bob Dylan at different periods of his life. I wrote this when I was just starting to blog and since it’s Dylan’s 72nd birthday today, I’ve edited, updated, and reposted it in tribute.

I’m Not There is one of the most wholly original films I’ve ever seen. There really is nothing that I can compare it to. Put simply, it’s about Bob Dylan, so if you find Dylan or his music fascinating, there is a chance that you may enjoy Todd Hayne’s bizarre biopic. The movie is an exhibition of scattered vignettes based on Dylan’s life as well as his music. What makes the film almost infamously unique is that it takes care to keep unclear what is fiction and what is fact, eventually creating a vision of Dylan that is undeniably visionary.

This is no Walk the Line. This is not another Ray. I’m Not There is something else. It’s not a simple film. There’s a reason that I see loads of used copies of the movie in video stores. At this moment, the average user rating of the movie on IMDb is 6.9/10. Obviously, this is not a film that is loved by the general public. Nonetheless, I believe that it is an important film because of the ideas and styles that it introduces. The editing is exciting and the way that the movie subtly slips from real events to a fantasy sequence is daring and innovative.

Since I adore Dylan’s music, I was able to enjoy the film easily enough. One has to understand that any movie depicting his music would offer at least a hint of the surreal and psychedelic. For fellow lovers of Dylan’s music, I’d recommend this film. Anyone else may find it boring or rather polarizing. With six different actors representing Dylan at different periods of his life, the movie seems to emphasize the way Dylan has experimented with and explored life’s possibilities. In that light, I’m Not There is a fitting tribute that takes on the character of its subject: odd, unpredictable, and fascinating.


27 responses to “Cinema Express: I’m Not There (2007)

  1. Another great post Garrett. You’re on a roll at the moment. I’m a massive fan of Dylan and see him as the best singer/songwriter that ever lived (along with Tom Waits). When I seen this film, it blew me away. It was such an original approach, but one that I wasn’t expecting. I really enjoyed it but I’m thinking that I may it enjoy it even more, now that I know what to take from it. I must revisit this one. I always revisit Dylan albums and I think this film deserves the same respect. Excellent highlight again, my man!

    • Thanks Mark! I too love Dylan’s music and I love the way that the film chose to spotlight the different stages of his life with different actors. I’ve been listening to his music again today and a few of the songs automatically brought scenes from this film to mind. Such great music and such an original movie. Thanks again and I’ll be sure to pick my next review wisely as not to mess up the streak 😉

    • That was Swinton’s performance in Michael Clayton? If that’s the case then Blanchett really should have gotten it. And by the way, I like the new logo 🙂

  2. I so enjoyed “I’m Not There” as well. I am awaiting “Inside Lleweyn Davis” by the Coen Bros, very, very loosely based on Dave Van Ronk. Happy Birthday, Bob!!!!

    • I really enjoy the Coen brothers’ films, so I’m very much looking forward to Inside Llewelyn Davis too. I really can’t wait to see how they handle that material.

  3. I’ve been hearing such mixed reviews about this one, even one blogger who’s a fan of Dylan told me not to bother. I’m still curious to check it out just to see Blanchett’s performance and of course Bale’s too. I’m not fond of Dylan’s music though, even if he’s from my home state, ahah.

    • The performances really are the main reason that I would recommend it, though it admittedly will be hard to get into if you aren’t interested in Dylan or his music, since it can be heard all throughout the film.

      • Ahah yeah, that’s what I was thinking, but I really like Blanchett & Bale so I’ll still give it a shot just for ’em. It’s on Netflix so I suppose I could just watch their scenes 😀

  4. Blanchett was simply phenomenal in this movie, and I feel that it was one of her best roles to date. The film had a talented cast, was slightly confusing, but overall it was totally worth the watch, the performances make it worth it!

    • You’re right. It does get confusing but Blanchett and Bale in particular were just great. Glad you liked it as well. Thanks!

  5. Great review man. I’ve never really been on board with Dylan’s music, no idea why to be honest. Nothing against it, just never really got into it. Do you reckon I can still enjoy this, then? Or do you need to be a Dylan fan?

    • Thanks. There’s a lot to like about the performances, especially by Blanchett, and there is a lot of originality. As far as biopics go, this one is as unique as you’ll ever see, but unfortunately, I doubt that I would have gotten anything good out of it if I wasn’t already a fan. One of the things the movie doesn’t do well is make Dylan and his music accessible to people who haven’t heard it or don’t care for it.

  6. Pingback: Movie Report Card: May 2013 | Cinema Train·

  7. I’m on a Christian Bale kick, so I’m curious how he handled the role. Cate B., I’ve heard, is awesome in the role. I meant to see it, but it slipped away and out of my memory. Thanks for reminding me I need to see this! I like Dylan!

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