If youve ever been curious about experimental cinema, this is it.
Inspired by the tumultuous life and music of Bob Dylan, its a kaleidoscopic, non-linear meditation with little coherence. Eccentric Dylan, called by six different names, is played by six different actors of different races and genders each representing a phase in his chaotic life.
Dylans childhood is embodied by an 11 year-old African-American runaway (Marcus Carl Franklin) calling himself Woody Guthrie in homage to the legendary musician. Riding in railroad box-cars with hoboes, he endears himself to them and others playing guitar.
Growing up, he becomes cryptic poet Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Wishaw) and Jack (Christian Bale), a protest singer in Greenwich Village, whose lover is activist/folksinger Alice Fabian (Julianne Moore); Jack re-appears later as born-again Pastor John.
Then theres Robbie (Heath Ledger), a New York actor whos in love with French painter Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). When success overwhelms, he morphs into swaggering, drugged-out Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett) and eventually becomes a reclusive outlaw (Richard Gere).
Writer/director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), working with writer Oren Kaufman, assumes a knowledge of Dylan that some audience members may lack, so I suspect it will appeal, primarily, to Dylan devotees.
Cate Blanchetts androgynous performance is most memorable; ironically, shes the only one who truly captures Dylans mannerisms. And Bruce Greenwood scores as an exasperated British journalist voicing my exact thoughts: Im not sure I follow.
The photography and editing are commendable and the actors mainly lip-sync Dylans songs, so the soundtrack incorporates the work many musicians. Only at the conclusion does one glimpse the real Dylan on the harmonica. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, Im Not There is a bizarre, discordant, surreal 6 definitely not a mainstream movie.