Finally got around to seeing it.  Being the big Dylan fan I am, I was wary about it from the moment I heard that Cate Blanchett would be playing the man himself.  But I decided to give it a go anyway.

Boy, am I glad I did.

Opening with a montage of the different "Dylans" in the movie, this film is an excellent representation of the fractal nature of Bob's music career.  Though they never actually say "Bob" or "Dylan" or "Bob Dylan" anywhere, the interpretations of his speech, dress, and manner are completely present.  It is chock-full of allusions to his songs and books, as well as interviews. 

The first Dylan we meet is the fresh-from-Minnesota Dylan, where he adopts the persona of his hero, Woody Guthrie.  The actor, a young black boy named Marcus Carl Franklin, gives an absolutely stunning and believable performance as Woody, riding the rails and conversing with the old drifters.  Oh, another thing about this movie–with each new Dylan persona, you get not only a new actor, but a new name as well.

The next Dylan, Jack Rollins, was played by Christian Bale (hot Batman); he portrayed the folk singer/activist that becomes jaded because of the expectations people have for him, and later Pastor John, the "born again" Dylan.  Laura Linney plays the Joan Baez figure.  Ben Whishaw does a great job of playing the "Arthur Rimbaud,"  perfectly mimicking the intricacies of Dylan in interviews interspersed throughout the film, which brings me to another important point to note–this movie is in no way chronologically or logically presented.  Much like Dylan himself and his work, do not try to make sense of it; it only makes sense to the creator, if at all.  Just absorb it and appreciate it for what it is.

Heath Ledger presents Robbie Clark, the 70's Dylan, who meets and falls in love with his wife.  His first wife, Sarah, is played by Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of the legendary Serge Gainsbourg, though she is a famous musician as well.  (As an aside, Serge was sort of the French equivalent to Bob Dylan, if there were such a thing.  But once again, he did revolutionary things in his own right.) 

In a surprisingly compelling performance of Dylan after going electric, Cate Blanchett portrays Jude Quinn (I just love how the writer chose the names!).  The representation of that infamous Newport  Folk Festival where he went electric is absolutely fabulous, though I will say no more on that point.  You really need to watch it.  There are even bits that work in the Beatles and Allen Ginsberg.

Finally we get an older Bob in Billy, played by Richard Gere, that has gone into hiding in a little town called Riddle.  Frankly, the whole bit with this fanciful town isn't much to write home about; the only note-worthy part from it would be the representation of The Band and their music.

Pay special attention to the ending monologue.

In all, I'd have to say this movie was frickin' brilliant.  There were some extremely poignant moments to be sure.  I'm not sure a person would really get all of the levels and layers of references without having listened to Bob's music and watching his movies, interviews, concerts, and documentaries, and without having read his books. But then again, is that really necessary?  Perhaps not.  Appreciation works on many levels.    I'll leave you with a quote from the movie that really struck a chord with me:  "The only truly natural things are dreams, which nature cannot touch with decay."

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