I’m Not There


Say what you will about folk legend Bob Dylan, but before you say them, Todd Haynes’ new biopic about the misunderstood poet will take them out of your mouth, tell you what you should think of him, and irritate you for two hours about how prevalent the man is. I’m Not There, the film that would bastion Dylan’s mythological existence, makes the singer songwriter look like some sort of ever present demigod, metamorphosing into whoever he wants, whenever he wants. The whole project is a little, shall we say, pretentious? In fact, this film is so muddy and convoluted that Dylan’s ex beau, Joan Baez, would probably cite it as a reason she broke up with the frizzy haired prophet in the first place, even if the film didn’t exist four decades ago.

What a total mess this movie is. What we have here is a slew of actors who give their best to impersonate Dylan, giving in to his zonked out ramblings, lethargic, unsteady mannerisms, and his trademark drawl. I’m Not There is a bloated, overstuffed metaphor, full of wacky performances and terrible quotations from the 1960s messiah, including my favorite line, “We’re all just a hunk of butter man.” Never truer words spoken.

I will save us both from repeating all of the intricately woven plotlines; most of them are bad, especially the one in which Cate Blanchett draws on a mustache and gets attacked by a knife. That particular scene was very, very bad. If you’re interested still, and Lord knows why you would be, please be aware that the traditionally overzealous Richard Gere and the late Heath Ledger also sling the guitar around their neck to play Dylan.

Dylan is a vague man, yes, but do we really need a film that tells us this? Do we really need a film that’s more difficult to read into than his music? Do I really need to see a repeating scene of a giant tarantula walking next to a bottle of spilled pills?

What I took from this movie, and maybe I am wrong, is that we’re all Bob Dylan. If this is the case, I am so sorry to everyone I bother on a daily basis, because Bob Dylan is annoying as hell, especially in an art house film.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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