Todd Haynes‘ "I’m Not There" has now screened at Venice and at Telluride, where "festival-goers have been buzzing about, and debating, Haynes’ innovative, exhilarating look at the life of an American icon," reports Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE. In the end, there was never any doubt that Haynes’ kaleidoscopic, experimental look at the life of Bob Dylan would be interesting; the early reviews all allow that, while generally musing that it’s going to be a tough sell.
Ray Bennett at the Hollywood Reporter writes that "the film fits well with [Dylan’s] singular ability to reinvent himself while really putting us nowhere nearer to fully understanding the man," but also that "it’s difficult to see who the prime audience will be for the picture… It’s a curiosity that could delight or turn off loyal Dylan fans and may prove too oddball to draw in younger and mainstream audiences." Todd McCarthy at Variety notes that Dylan fans will have the most fun dissecting how Haynes has chosen to represent the musician’s life, but that "all of this will serve to inflate the film’s significance by ignoring its lack of more general accessibility. In the end, it’s a specialists’ event."
Lee Marshall at Screen Daily finds that "I’m Not There feels more like a thoughtful, probing, documentary told in fictional format. But this is also the film’s major drawback: it keeps teasing us with what Dylan actually did, or said, or sang, and then retreating back into its fictional shell." And David Gritten at the Telegraph "for those of us who love Dylan from afar (easily the best vantage point) this is a wild, joyous, exhilarating roller-coaster ride of a movie. It ties up no loose ends, but lets him stand as a brilliant, evasive enigma. I cannot say I understand Dylan one bit better – and there’s no higher praise for the film than that."
The safe bet seems to be that the film will be netting Cate Blanchett at least a supporting actress Oscar nomination â€” as McCarthy notes, she "can now rightly claim to be the only thesp on Earth ever to have been
asked to channel both Bob Dylan and Katharine Hepburn, and to have done
so successfully." Richard Gere, however, has apparently gotten the short end of the stick with the "Billy" western section.
+ Haynes’ Dylan Stories Stir Telluride; "Band’s Visit" Makes Politics Personal (indieWIRE)
+ I’m Not There (Hollywood Reporter)
+ I’m Not There (Variety)
+ I’m Not There (Screen Daily)
+ Venice Film Festival reviews: ‘I’m Not There’, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ and ‘The Hunting Party’ (Telegraph)