You've probably already heard about how Todd Haynes' new Bob Dylan movie works. In I'm Not There. Bob Dylan is played by six different actors: Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Christian Bale, Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw and... Cate Blanchett.
So the film is basically more of a cinematic exercise than a movie. And I think this is okay because the whole thing is fascinating. I mean, the Richard Gere part is kind of boring, but even that has one of the nicest musical moments in the whole movie.
The acting is great all around. I was particularly fond of Heath Ledger and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Cate Blanchett is excellent, although I'm not sure the performance ever really jells completely, by which I mean that everything about her sequences always feels artificial. (The Ledger and Franklin sequences are not hampered by this problem.) The Blanchett stuff is filled with Felliniesque touches; there are lots of cool references to 8½ that feel absolutely perfect for this bizarre dream of a movie.
My favorite sequences, though, are the scenes with Marcus Carl Franklin, who plays Woody Guthrie, the eleven-year-old Bob Dylan, who (as I understand it) represents early Dylan, finding his sound, learning the blues and training himself, and finally, learning to sing about his own time. Franklin is adorable, with a wicked grin and wise eyes. He lights up the screen whenever he's in a scene, and I found myself wishing he would come back later in the film when were focusing mainly on Blanchett and Gere.
Basically, I'm Not There. is not to be missed, especially if you are fond of Fellini. It's difficult, and I'm not sure it works in total, but there are some brilliant, gorgeous, sequences, and it's one of the coolest movies of the year.