Will the Real Dylan Please Stand Up?
Now, before I get into too much of a spoiler mode, let me take a shortcut to a recommendation. If you're really familiar with Bob Dylan's songs and lyrics, and you also enjoy surrealistic art in your movies (the second half of Apocalypse Now for example), I have a recommendation for you. Just go to the movie (quickly now, it's in limited release) with some friends, then go out to dinner or a coffee shop afterwards to discuss the movie. You can come back here later to read the rest!
You've either gone out and seen the movie by now, or like me, you like to read spoilers! Spoilers? It's not like a whodunit, Dylan is still alive, and his story is not a secret, in fact it's deeply woven into our own culture and identity. This film's main shtick is that Dylan is played by 6 different actors, from an 11-year old black boy to Cate Blanchett. None of them is named Bob Dylan, and everything seems to be from some sort of parallel universe. We see scenes that happened in real life, sort of, but the names have been changed. We see the Newport Folk Festival of 1965, but it's not called Newport. Pete Seeger, who is not Pete Seeger grabs for the historic axe to try and cut the power cables to stop the awful noise Dylan/Jude/Cate is hurling at the audience. The scene in fact opens with the band opening fire with machine guns instead of guitars! (See? You shouldn't have read this far. It would've been a cool surprise if you could have seen it without warning!)
Chronologies are mangled, and you need to just let it happen. You may not like this movie if linear narrative is how you like things. I found it to be a reflection of our whole lives, not just Dylan's. The emotions of tragedy, of stress, triumph, loss, and heartache resonate deeply. Dylan was a one-man Beatles for a while in terms of how much pressure he was under as the 'spokesman for a generation,' a title he never wanted. I was fortunate to not know too much about the film before seeing it tonight, outside of the multiple-Dylan shtick, so it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. We then hung out with our friends Bill and Lucy afterwards, discussing it. Even though we all had different levels of Dylan knowledge, we all liked it, and would recommend it. Please leave some comments below if you get to see this.