Sarah Morrison / Equinox Staff

Sarah Morrison / Equinox Staff

Where would we be without music? Music fills a special hole in your heart, whether you know it or not. Thanks to various bands and composers, we have a whole array of genres to choose from and enjoy. Certain people have certain preferences — that’s how the world works. 

In the sixties, records were flying off the shelves like crazy with the next big hit. During this time, a young musician by the name of Bob Dylan came onto the scene and brought life to folk music.

“I’m Not There” takes on a different approach to the standard biopic. Instead of focusing on Bob Dylan as one person, this film tries something different. Multiple actors including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Wishaw all take a turn, playing a certain persona of the man himself.

What an odd concept. Before I go into details, I want to say that while I didn’t think it worked out, I applaud the director for trying something different and unique. I have to give credit where credit is due. Having said that, the execution of this narrative made this film a chore to sit through.

Besides the avid Bob Dylan fan, nobody knows his life story. A biopic about him and his efforts could prove to be insightful about his career as a whole.

At first, I welcomed the idea of multiple actors playing Dylan at multiple points in his life. But believe me when I say that it is way more complicated than I expected.

This is a fair warning right now — for anybody who has never heard of or knows the story of Bob Dylan, you will be lost. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out what the different segments meant. For a regular audience, it will be confusing. Each celebrity uses a different name for the character as well. That’s right — never once is the name Bob Dylan used, except for the credits. Each name is used from something important in his life, but if you don’t know his history, you would have never known that.

Aside from that, how is the acting? While I didn’t think that anyone was bad, I wasn’t all that impressed either. Christian Bale and Ben Wishaw probably have the least amount of screen time out of everybody. Next up is Marcus Carl Franklin, who plays a young incarnation of “Dylan.” For a child actor, he does perfectly fine.

While Cate Blanchett is always the one to get the most praise, I believe that Heath Ledger gave the closest fulfillment of a character. Of all the stories, his was the easiest to follow. This is supported by the talented Charlotte Gainsbourg, who plays his wife.

But I have the same problem with all of the cast. I still do not know who Bob Dylan was. Scenes happen at random, weaving back and forth between actors.

For a film of this complexity, I wish I had more to say. Bob Dylan fans will love this movie, and that’s fine — it was made for them. But for me, I found myself checking the time every twenty minutes after the hour mark. “I’m Not There” is two hours and fifteen minutes, but it felt twice as long. So, in that case, I cannot recommend this film to anyone but Dylan’s followers.


Rating: C-

Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at

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