I'M NOT THERE
I’M NOT THERE is a film that dramatizes the life and music of Bob Dylan as a series of shifting personae, each performed by a different actor—poet, prophet, outlaw, fake, star of electricity, rock and roll, martyr born-again Christian—seven identities braided together, seven organs pumping through one life story, as dense and vibrant as the era it inspired. Arthur (Ben Wishaw), a renegade symbolist poet, serves as the film’s de facto narrator, while being interrogated by a nameless commission as to the motivations, subversive undercurrents, and political misreadings of his work. His witty, ironic responses provide counterpoint to the chapters of a life that begin to unfurl. First up, as an embodiment of Dylan’s youthful aspirations, we meet Woody (Marcus Carl Franklin), a precocious train-hopper who, despite being 11-years-old and black, calls himself Woody Guthrie. Set in the late 1950’s, Woody has adopted the posture and tales of the dust bowl troubadour with a calculated earnestness. To the supporters he encounters on the road, Woody’s tall tales of circus escapes and musical glory provide impressive evidence of his authenticity, even as his impersonation is revealed. But the character who first achieves success “singing about his own time” is Jack (Christian Bale), who hits Greenwich Village and spearheads the protest-music scene of the early sixties with his original compositions, strident performances and high-profile LPs. As the devouring public divines a social and political consciousness in his lyrics, Jack severs ties with his ‘message’ in a bizarre retreat from both his lover and folksinging champion, Alice (Julianne Moore) and his young worshiping audience. Robbie (Heath Ledger), a New York actor and motorcycle enthusiast, races to counter-culture fame with his performance in a 1965 film biography of the now-vanished Jack. Robbie’s troubled ten-year relationship with Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is chronicled from their initial meeting in a Greenwich Village coffee shop through to their eventual separation against the background turmoil of the Vietnam War. While Robbie struggles to balance private life with encroaching fame, Jude (Cate Blanchett) surrenders body and soul to a full-throttle assault on his folk music following. Closely following Dylan’s mid-sixties adventures, Jude shocks his audience by embracing amplified rock and an increasingly nihilistic, amphetamine-fueled persona. His new sound attracts artistic kudos from Allen Ginsberg (David Cross), underground ingénue Coco Rivington (Michelle Williams) and international fame, but infuriates the protest-music old guard, not to mention journalists like Mr. Jones (Bruce Greenwood). Evading emotional attachments and basic self-preservation, Jude’s dangerous game propels him into existential breakdown. His resurrection comes in the nick of time: Pastor John (Christian Bale) is Jack twenty years later, a born-again Christian preacher who has jettisoned his folk music legacy for the gospel. Finally, the last and oldest of our characters is discovered in full retreat from the world. Billy (Richard Gere)—no longer “the Kid”—has survived his famous showdown and found refuge in the metaphoric town of Riddle, MO living out his days in a self-imposed exile from the past. But when word of the town’s impending demise forces a confrontation with his old nemesis Pat Garrett (a reincarnated Bruce Greenwood), Billy is forced to abandon his sanctuary and continue moving on.
©2012 THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.