Writer-director Todd Haynes employs a risky but rewarding technique to try and capture the tumultuous, chameleon-like life of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There: he uses a number of different actors – including a kid and a woman – to portray the musician at various stages in his career. The end result may not get any closer to the “truth” about Dylan than a conventional biopic would, but at least the movie snubs conventional formula in favor of its own, folk-rock-gospel rhythm (sound familiar?) Of the many Dylans, Cate Blanchett, of all people, stands above the rest. Androgynous enough in a wiry wig, she projects the inner angst of a quiet artist who has been periodically labeled a prophet, hypocrite, sell-out and legend. Haynes, who expertly recreated the Douglas Sirk melodramas of the 1950s for his homage Far From Heaven, masters an array of arresting visual styles, from gray, grainy “documentary” footage to richly colored country landscapes to a stylish, black-and-white Mod scheme for the Blanchett sequences.
If you add them all up do you get an accurate picture of Dylan? Only the enigmatic icon knows for sure.