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I'm Not There (2007)

Finally saw this today. Maybe if I see it again, I'll like it better. That's what happened to me with Todd Haynes' other film about music and fame and past eras, Velvet Goldmine. I'm Not There though, misses having Velvet Goldmine's Arthur Stuart character - the fan who lives through the music from afar, but in a more passionate way than even those who made the music. The perspective of inside and outside the fame bubble really made that movie come alive because that fan passion is how most of us experience things.

The conceit of having six Dylan characters works sometimes, but not very often. There is one section that is beautiful - the evocation of Blood on the Tracks with Heath Ledger and Charlotte Gainsbourg playing a couple going through a messy and heartbreaking divorce as they remember the beginning and end of their romance. It is gorgeously shot and perfectly captures an entire decade (1964-1974) and the romanticism of Bob Dylan's love songs (and his many "end of love" songs).

The rest of the movie is all about Bob Dylan's various personae of the wandering troubadour, the Western outlaw, and the iconoclast. It mostly falls flat. Fame's a bitch, everyone wants to define him, everyone wants him to speak for the times, blah blah blah. It's kind of boring. It would suck to have all those expectations and hopes thrown on you by millions of people, but I don't really find drug fueled breakdowns and put downs and laments that interesting. Also, when the movie gets into making points about America, or about the obtuseness of the press, it makes very obvious metaphors that are embarrassing to see.

The film is chock full of gorgeous images, though. There are so many characters and montages that I'd have to watch it again just to take it all in.