Video Review: I’m Not There

Director: Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Velvet Goldmine)
Writers: Todd Haynes, Oren Moverman
Producers: Jeff Rosen, John Sloss, John Goldwyn, James D. Stern, Christine Vachon
Starring: Cate Blanchet, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 135 min

check out the trailer after the jump…

Click “play” to see the trailer:

IMDb profile – full cast and crew
Official Site
Flixster Profile for I’m Not There

Andrew James
Podcaster. Tech junkie. Movie lover. Also games and guitar. I dig music.


  1. Glad to hear you like this film Andrew. I feel that the film is very much like Dylan in how it does whatever it wants and shoves it in your face… there is no pandering to the audience at all. At the Q&A at TIFF Todd Haynes remarked about how the structure largely centered on the idea of the aspect of Dylan dreaming each other into being, and when I caught the film the second time I really saw that more clearly than when I first encountered this beast.

    Even the second time viewing it I was missing probably a fourth of the references (must watch Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid!).

    There is a truly beautiful moment near the end of this film where Cate-as-Dylan is giving a speech on not being a folksinger: he/she is sitting in the back of a car and the response seems categorically Dylan in its esoteric elusiveness, but then suddenly there is a real directness, perhaps the first of the entire movie, and you feel like finally something is being said, and with that Cate-Dylan looks directly into the camera and gives a Mona Lisa smile that sent tingles down my spine.

    I did notice in your still from that scene that Cate is wearing her wedding ring prominently, its small stuff like that that makes this a real departure from the norm.

    Now get the soundtrack it is awesome!

  2. Also I should take this opportunity to plug yet again (you would think I was being paid for this) the excellent documentary Dont Look Back… there is a lot of dialogue in this film that is directly taken from this film and so part of the pleasure is watching Haynes repurpose it, and the keeners like myself will even appreciate the small changes Haynes made.

    A favorite throwaway reference is when Ginsberg drives away and someone says "see ya later allen ginsberg"… there is a classic pot-induced song that repeats that line before breaking into the giggles on one of the Dylan rareties.

    The film is saturated in these sorts of things.

  3. I was actually wondering if you were ever going to do a video review thing somewhere or other. I know you had a few audio reviews on but I guess that didn't work out so well (?). Anyway great review, I am not a huge Dylan fan (except for the song "The Man in Me" from a movie that needs no introduction, for you Andrew especially) or I don't have much knowledge of the man himself but the 6 different actors playing the one person thing really intrigued me so I will definitely check it out.

  4. Yeah, Blanchet also has long, manicured fingernails. Kind of interesting. I didn't spot the wedding ring. Nice eye. But I love the end where Blanchet just looks at the camera and smirks. Perfect.

    And yes, I'm really looking forward to checking out "Don't Look Back" now, before seeing this again (which I will certainly do).

    I also forgot to mention that during the Gere segment, "My Morning Jacket" performs a song in that werid, circus town that is totally haunting and beautiful.

  5. @ rusty.

    That's a good question. Half or 3/4 is a rough guess. Even though I KNOW I didn't pick up on all the references, you can just feel that there is some kind of "inside joke" happening all the time. For instance, I'm not too familiar with Dylan in his later years, so I don't really get anything within the Gere sequence (the dead horse, the circus, the dead girl, seeing himself, the mask) – all that stuff seems referential even though I didn't pick up on what they were.

  6. So Jim James is from Morning Jacket… I had no idea… when I first saw the film I thought how random… a song about Acapulco, I only later realized that it was a Dylan song I had yet to encounter. I have the song up on my blog, you can listen to it here:

    The wedding band (sorry not ring) had to have been deliberate, and I guess rather than a fuck you to authenticity, it may have been yet another reference to the film being unstuck in time, the overlap of the Dylans, the married one somehow merging with the younger one.

    Also I wanted to catch you up Andrew on the idea that Gere doesn't look anything like Dylan… there are shots that look exactly like the seventies Dylan, I wish I could find this music video around that period on youtube but I know Haynes was directly referencing it in some of the shots.

  7. @Ross,

    For a good "in" to Dylan, try Blood on the Tracks. Not his most influential or "experimental" album, but it's a slightly more listenable before trying his more less commercial stuff (for lack of a better term).

    Also, after he went electric, there are loads of great records. Chech out "Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Review Bootleg series (Vol 5): 1975". Or "Time out of Mind" is a good one too. In this day in age, you can download anything and see if you like it, then buy what you like.

  8. Andrew – The wink was fucking awesome. You should rate movies on wink based scale. From something in my eye to inappropriate leering.

    By the ways, in case you were wondering Andrew James and I are not related.

  9. Great review. I'm not at all familiar with Dylan but I've really enjoyed Todd Haynes' other films and was willing to watch this just for his take on the story of such a prolific musician. Will I be OK seeing this without knowing anything about Dylan and just enjoying it as a good film or is this really aimed "at fans"?

  10. its very very esoteric. I would be interested to hear from people who know little about Dylan and still enjoyed the film, my suspicion is you need to be a fan of the man to enjoy it.

  11. When do we get a Jakob Dylan biopic? That's what I want.

    Great review though, mate. I think when Indy 4 comes out, I'm going to do a written review, a video review, an audio review, an interview, you name it.

  12. whoa i googled Jakob Dylan. the wallflowers. i had no clue at all that he was bob dylan's son. never made the connection. i'm blown away.

  13. I'd be interested as well if any non Dylan fans liked this movie and what they liked about it. Not knowing anything about Dylan, it would be hard to follow or care about anything on screen I think – but maybe I'm wrong. I's difficult to put myself in someone's shoes that way. If I had to guess though, I'd say spend your money elsewhere. It really is a well put together film though. It's gorgeous actually.

  14. Hey Andrew, I love the new video review feature! I'm still undecided on the flick itself, partially because I'm not all that well-versed on Dylan, and also because I'm quickly running out of days to see it before I take off for Australia for a month. But I'm sure it'll get at least a few Oscar nods, so it'll still be playing when I get back at the end of January. Keep up the great work, can't wait to see more video reviews. Oh, and thanks for the support of my darling critically-panned Factory Girl. And I love your "set" — that's quite the DVD collection! Love the After Dark Press pass hanging over your shoulder. 😉

  15. It's going to be hard to comment not having seen the film itself, so I won't. What I will say is there definitely seems to be a "forcing myself to like this thing" going on. No one is exactly raving about this film, the positive things I've read have been more of "well his last film was good, so there must be something to this…". I'm really interested to go see it being a huge Dylan fan, but I have strong reservations. While the different "Dylans" make for

    an interesting idea, from what I've read the execution seems to be lacking (other than Blanchett).

  16. One more thing. Gus Van Sant tried something similar to this with "Last Days" where they never actually refer to Kurt Cobain as Kurt but rather a musician named Blake who's obviously Kurt to tremendously boring results. I hope this thing is better.

  17. Big Scott,

    Never saw the Van Sant film, but it sounds like the exact same thing here. The more and more I think about it, which I mentioned in the Cinecast but didn't really get across very well in the above review, is that I really love this movie. Now that's I've seen "Don't Look Back," I'd really like to re-visit this one again. I'd say it has a strong chance of making my year end top ten (which is only days away from being ready).

    If you're a Dylan fan and know about his life, you're going to love this one. As long as you can handle the length and also realize that this is a visual art film – not a narrative storyline.

  18. I see what you're saying, but Last Days is a very different film. Last Days is biographical fiction, filling in the missing parts with speculation. I'm Not There dives into fantasy. It's like Bob Dylan fanfiction. Like what if Dylan met Billy The Kid.

    Two good films, but very different.

  19. I got around to seeing this on Wednesday night. I must confess that I was lost through most of the film. I had a difficult time keeping the various threads together though I do love the way Haynes edits according to theme (seems like all of the relationship stuff is together as is the dealing with stardom stuff). Loved the performances, but my favorite of the bunch has to be Ben Whishaw who kept the entire film together for me.

    In talking to the guys I went with, both of whom are BIG Dylan fans – one loved it, one wasn't so keen but the film certainly sparked passionate discussion from both.

    Essentially, it sounded to me like thy got a whole lot more out of it and I think one does need to have some familiarity with the Dylan history but for a non-fan, the film feels like an interesting experiment which looks great, with amazing performances but it doesn't work if you're not an insider.

  20. That's exactly what I suspected. I'm glad I got to hear a review from the perspective of someone who doesn't know a lot of the Dylan lore.

    The more I think about this film, the more I like it and can't wait to see it again. I'm glad you could appreciate it for what it is, even if it's a bit hard to follow. This is more for the themes and style than it is for the storyline.


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