I've got to admit that I'm not a Bob Dylan fan, and neither do I know enough of the man and his music. The only reason why I opted to watch I'm Not There, is undeniably because of the stellar cast attached to the project. Especially so when you have Cate Blanchett who got an Academy nomination for her role and I just wanted to fins out why, as well as the first pairing (well, not quite) of both Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger on screen, though they never share the same frame.
I only know enough to get by, that the different actors who get assigned to play Dylan related roles, be it through references of song, or characters through movies, make this movie seem quite all over the place, and therein lies the catch - how do you personify a living musical legend on the big screen, one who probably has so many facets to his life, that is near impossible for one actor to portray? So I guess Todd Haynes built multiple personalities around the Dylan motif, and see how they went.
For most of the movie, you can treat it like a short film, each with different actors at the helm of a Dylan-related character, holding court, with couple of recognizable celebrities making cameo appearances, and though what I thought was interesting, was that Bale had 2 segments given to him, one near the beginning where he gets to showcase his singing voice, and the other one right at the end. Again Bale goes through a physical transformation that you'd probably do a double take just to convince yourself that it is him under the guise.
Other than that, Heath Ledger's role I thought was the simplest to follow, as it centers on the love life of an actor. Despite these highlights and the other supporting acts, Cate Blanchett really showed who was in command, as her role was really very trippy even for my liking, but made it a whole lot of fun just to watch her in action - you might even wonder what kind of medication she was on to put on a performance like that.
I really wasn't quite right there with the movie, so if I were to round up a final statement, it would be that this movie is suited for Bob Dylan fans as you can probably go ballistic with the number of references loaded in this film, or if you're really keen, to do a lot of research by reading up the life of the man, and of course to listen to his music, in order to get something meaningful and rich out of it.