Biopics can often be very boring, especially when they deviate into the holography field. Most biopics want to glorify the person they are portraying on-screen, with the rays carefully hidden behind a smokenscreen by the filmmaker. Many of them seem rehearsal and stale, not because the subject matter is dated, but because of its treatment. However, the 2007 film I Am Not That Something was nothing. I had never kept an eye on any biographical film about how inventive he is in nature.
Written and co-starring Todd Heads, I Wasn’t What Inspired was inspired by the life and music of Pulitzer-winning singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Dylan, closing at 80, has been relevant for at least half a century now. And in those 50 years, he constantly refined himself, like the film in question. At first, he was a folk musician inspired by the famous Woody Guthrie. Then he started experimenting with electric guitar and pop-sound. In the 70s, Dylan was drawn to country music, finally returning to his pop-rock blast route in the 90s.
Now to film on such a shape-shifting and culturally resonant American icon, you have to think outside the box. If Haynes had gone the traditional way, we would have been robbed of the opportunity to see the nuances and sheer novelty of his work. Thankfully, they did not do this and we now have a separate school of making biopics. One which, despite all imitations, hardly falls on its back. What matters is that I am not supported by a dashing cast of Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, Ben Whiswa, Richard Gere and Marcus Carl Franklin. Although Dylan’s name is hardly mentioned throughout the film, you can feel his presence in all the actors. Dylan is represented by six artists, who are actually four men, a child and a woman. Bizarre but it fits on the multidimensional personality of Bob Dillon.
A special shout out to the casting director for choosing these talented people, as they bring a lot of life and color to the film, which might otherwise seem like a slow-burn guy who is not a fan of Dylan. However, no one stands out in a film like Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. How is the nature of that actor! Every frame that she fills in films is an achievement in itself, seeing how all her parts are black and white. There is a press conference sequence that comes to mind, where Jude as Kate is being questioned about why she has decided to return her music in favor of a more commercial flavor. Reminiscent of Dylan in body language and low, hoarse voice. With her sleek frame, curly hair, long artistic fingers and a slight pouch, Kate surpasses the rest of Dylan by a wide stretch.
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Kate seemed to be having fun being Dylan and that fun translated well on screen. Director Haynes spoke with Rolling Stone explaining why he thought of Kate for the part – “It was written and conceived as an actress to play Jude from the beginning, before I knew it would be Kate. It was really just Dylan’s life at that moment. The way Dylan looked in 1966 was crazy about the body, the huge hair, the flying hands, and the strangely bizarre figure that was clearly searching for drugs and living on the sidelines. After the motorcycle accident, there were no flying hands, no big hair, no short, thin body. That Dylan was gone forever. This is such a famous image of Dylan. I wanted to try to substantiate it with the cultural shock value of seeing it for the first time in 1965. So I thought an actress could be interesting. “
And the result was electrifying because Kate held her cigarette as she did as she walked, wounded by her words, much like Dylan himself. No wonder he was then nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the film.
You can see I’m Not There on Google Play.