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I'm Not There


Stars: Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Kris Kristofferson, Ben Whishaw, Richie Havens

Director: Todd Haynes

A kaleidoscopic survey of the life of Bob Dylan, offering imagined images from the singer's career, and re-enacted by a number of 'Dylans' including Ledger, Bale, Blanchett (who's great apart from the distracting lipstick) and an 11-year-old (black) boy. Then there's Gere who's probably playing Billy the Kid, a role taken by Dylan himself in a 1973 film - or maybe an older Dylan.

Todd Haynes' previous film, Far from Heaven, is one of my favourites, but this is a mess. It's an ambitious failure, true, but one which most audiences won't be able to make head nor tail of - although you can always close your eyes, and listen to the marvellous Dylan songs on the soundtrack. That's one thing the film does get right - using Dylan's own voice and, from it, the only correct deduction in the dialogue, when he says 'I'm not a folk singer - my songs are political.'

That they were, and they changed the thoughts and minds of a generation. One admires what Haynes is trying to do here, but the format just doesn't work, and the film remains of curiosity value only.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Paramount (Weinstein Co). Colour/bw.
136 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 16 Dec 2007