Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA/Germany, 2007. Killer Films, John Wells Productions, John Goldwyn Productions, Endgame Entertainment, Dreamachine, Film & Entertainment VIP Medienfonds 4 GmbH & Co. KG, Grey Water Park Productions, Rising Star, Wells Productions. Story by Todd Haynes, Screenplay by Todd Haynes, Oren Moverman. Cinematography by Edward Lachman. Produced by John Goldwyn, John Sloss, James D. Stern, Christine Vachon. Music by Randall Poster, Jim Dunbar. Production Design by Judy Becker. Costume Design by John Dunn. Film Editing by Jay Rabinowitz. Academy Awards 2007. Golden Globe Awards 2007. Independent Spirit Awards 2007. New York Film Critics Awards 2007. Toronto International Film Festival 2007.
The life and legend of Bob Dylan is recounted in fractured form in this hypnotic if superficial movie by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Safe). Haynes uses six different actors to make six intertwined films that each recount separate aspects of Dylan’s career, some working more effectively than others. Marcus Carl Franklin is superb in Dylan’s early years as a young dreamer, shot in surreal, lush tones and featuring a musical performance that is one of the film’s best moments. Christian Bale, who is wonderful, plays the folk singer whose tale is told in a documentary-like fashion complete with Julianne Moore as an early influence and deep relationship. Cate Blanchett is the standout of the picture, playing the rock star Dylan who courted controversy when he went electric, the sequences shot in Felliniesque black and white (some shots are directly lifted from 8 1/2) with Blanchett herself giving a jaw-dropping performance. Heath Ledger holds his own as the movie star Dylan, whose stormy relationship with wife Charlotte Gainsbourg makes for a highly engaging biopic. Where the viewer might lose patience, as many have, is when Richard Gere plays Dylan’s Billy The Kid creation, a sequence that extends the film way beyond its necessary length. Highly successful as an artistic experiment, the film fails to really engage the viewer emotionally; the soundtrack wisely plays one tune after another from this great musician’s incredible repertoire, but it’s too long and never manages to convince us that we should care so much about the stories behind the tunes. Still, fans will be in heaven, and it’s nice to see a biopic that pays tribute to the legend of its subject and doesn’t just draw its story from headlines or circumstantial evidence.