Inspired by the life and times of Bob Dylan, I’m Not There follows a variety of storylines and characters that seem to be Dylan, or certainly are inspired by him. Christian Bale plays a young folk singer, Jack Rollins, whose rebellious folk music inspired a generation. However, when he plays electric guitar at a festival, his fans feel betrayed. He leaves the music scene and finds religion.
Cate Blanchett plays Jude Quinn, a folk/rock singer during the sixties who is living through drugs and identity crisis, fighting against stereotyping whilst trying to keep his voice.
Ben Wishall plays Arthur Rimbaud, a poet whose interjections are commas and fullstops to the rhythm of the film.
Marcus Carl Franklin plays Woody, a young boy who travels America, avoiding the law. He sings beautifully, songs of the depression.
Richard Gere plays Billy the Kid as an older man, a hermit in hiding after being shot by Pat Garrett. After discovering that Garrett is going to destroy Riddle County where he lives, he confronts Garrett and finds himself on the run again.
Finally, Heath Ledger plays Robbie Clark, an actor starring in the bio-pic of Jack Rollins (the character played by Christian Bale). We see him fall in love with Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) who he marries. They have children, then split up.
There is so much in this film. I had expected that I would find it pretentious and annoying, especially having a woman cast as a male character. It all seemed ridiculous. Instead, I found it to be beautiful and poetic. It did not bother me that the stories mashed over each other, or that the key connection between the lot was the music. The hypnotic nature of the film lulled me in and took me over. The cast is incredible, with some of the top actors of this generation. I wonder how the film would have gone with unknown actors. I feel that it would have worked in much the same way, but perhaps with less acclaim.
Cate Blanchett was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her performance in I’m Not There.