Bob Dylan's many Guises Look Good in 'I'm Not There'
Half a dozen actors play Dylan at various points in his life, not one going by the name "Bob Dylan."
It's one of the conceits of Haynes' film that he takes each Dylan through to some sort of logical conclusion in his life. That Dylan would have become a
Ben Whishaw is the young poet, passing himself off as Rimbaud to an inquisition of academics and intellectuals.
Haynes and co-writer Oren Moverman build the script around Dylan's own words, from testy, challenging interviews, and the too-revealing
"I didn't come out of a cereal box," the post-Elvis, pre-Beatles
Do you have a message? A cranky British journalist demands.
You have to know at least some of the story to figure out who the players are and which setting we're in. But Haynes isn't going for the literal here, not for a minute. This is an impressionistic comic book of Dylan's life, his flings, first marriage, Pentecostal conversion and cultivated air of mystery.
The one man to maybe unmask him, the "Pat Garrett" who trapped this "Billy the Kid"? That would be the British journalist who got his goat during that "Don't Look Back" tour, played here by
It doesn't all work and it runs too long. But every fragment of Dylan's life, every version of him, from the funny to the tippy, rings true.
And if the real Dylan can boast "I'm not there" at the end of "I'm Not There," maybe that's because we've never been able to figure him out while he was "here." It's only later, after he's moved on, that any of his myriad guises seems like the put-on it is.
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