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SECOND OPINION: Being I’m Not There

BY CARRIE RICKEY INQUIRER FILM CRITIC Much as I admire [the] performances, and much as Iimnottheresepia.jpg respect Haynes’ attempt to create something deeper than the standard movie biopic, I left the theater scratching my head, thinking, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, “There’s no there there.” It’s an enigmatic movie about an enigma — not unlike a boring song about boredom.

Thankfully, Haynes successfully avoids replicating the biopic’s standard arc of struggle/flameout/phoenix rising from ashes, the cliche of every VH-1: Behind the Music episode. While structurally ambitious, his six actors in search of one character — or actors representing different facets of one character — deny us the elemental pleasures of narrative buildup and catharsis.
I sympathize with those, including Haynes, who want more from a biopic than the predictable rhythms of fall-and-rise. But my hunch is that audiences will prefer the forthcoming lightweight biopic satire Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story to Haynes’ deep-dish ruminations. Thoughts? [via FLICKGRRL]

OUR THOUGHTS: As for the ‘there there’, or the lack thereof, the inscrutability is intentional, if not the whole point. So taking the film to task for being too ambiguous is like blaming the night for being too dark. Besides, does 2 + 2 always add up to 4 in real life? As for complaining that the film’s experimental structure denied you the ‘elemental pleasures of narrative build-up and catharsis’, well, that strikes us complaining that the Venus De Milo don’t have no arms. And besides, you’ll always have Ray and Walk The Line. Always. Lastly, your hunch that herd mentality audiences will always choose the path of least resistance? You are blowin’ our frickin’ mind with that bombshell, Carrie. Just to be clear: That was saracasm. Motion denied, next case!

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One Response to “SECOND OPINION: Being I’m Not There

  1. Dan Buskirk Says:

    Really, is this film “enigmatic”? It does take for granted that the viewer has some authentic knowledge of Dylan’s work. Take the Richard Gere/Billy The Kid section for example. I could see where the whole section would seem needlessly obscure if you weren’t familiar with Dylan late sixties/early seventies work, but if you’d listened to THE BASEMENT TAPES and watched Peckinpah’s PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID it is apparent what Haynes is riffing on.

    A lot of the reviews for I’M NOT THERE seem to separate the folks who have put in the time exploring the albums of perhaps the most acclaimed songwriter of the century, and those who just have the “Greatest Hits”.

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