On Sky Movies Premiere tonight at 11.45pm

I’m Not There

Have you ever felt left out because you don’t understand?

I’m sure we all experience this from time to time, don’t we?

A memorable example of this for me was a few years back when I went to a wedding in Sweden with my partner (who speaks basic Swedish). I’d met the groom before – a jovial, friendly, witty chap, so I knew he’d be entertaining when delivering his speech at dinner. And he was, He was a hoot, judging by the reactions of the fellow guests, but I, with my three useless-unless-you’re-in-Ikea words of Swedish, didn’t understand a word of it.

Now, this sense of alienation was how I felt watching tonight’s film. I’ve always loved director Todd Haynes’s work. He’s a genius at opening jaded eyes, pushing his viewers to see the world differently, he has a fantastic visual eye and he’s daring – pushing boundaries and driving the viewer into areas of discomfort to drive his messages home.

I really wanted to like the movie, and as I began to watch it, I recognised that many of the Haynes characteristics I admire were there, in force. But there was one snag. I know very little about Bob Dylan so I didn’t understand the movie’s language.

Yes, that’s right, this unique movie is inspired by the music and ‘the many lives’ of Bob Dylan. It doesn’t, however, feature a single character called Bob, but it does feature six different actors playing him.

Confused? Yes, I was. Very confused. However, this isn’t the film’s fault. It’s mine for being ignorant.

And, I’ll tell you now, a quick skim-read of the Wikipedia biography isn’t going to be enough to prepare you for this film. You need to do your homework thoroughly – familiarise yourself with Dylan’s songs, watch at least one of the Dylan documentaries out there (in particuar No Direction Home or Dont Look Back), maybe even read a Dylan biography.

So, if you’ve been reading this post hoping for an insight into tonight’s movie then I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint. To talk about this film you first need to understand it, and to understand it you have to come from a place of knowledge, and me, well, at the moment, I’m sorry, I’m not there.