I’m Not There: Haynes’ Bob Dylan Feature Divides Critics

September 4, 2007–Bob Dylan made a strong impression at the Venice Film Festival as the brilliant director Todd Haynes’ biopic, I’m Not There, sharply divided critics but led to praise for the singer-songwriter on the Lido.

“He is probably the one artist of our time who will still be considered 200 years from now. Not Picasso: Bob Dylan,” said co-star Richard Gere at the picture’s packed press conference.

As in most controversial films, there were walkouts during the press screening of the first feature about his life that Dylan has supported, but also cheers when the movie was over.

The feature, which officially world-premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, played in competition in Venice. As previously announced, it features six actors playing Dylan, including Gere, who plays him as a “Billy the Kid”-type living in a Western town.

“The first time I met Todd Haynes, I said, ‘What the f–k is this character’ ” Gere recalled. But after he and Haynes talked, “I understood the approach he was taking to this film,” Gere said.

Haynes said he got Dylan’s approval because of the film’s experimental structure. “It’s something that would keep expanding who he Dylan is, and what he’s about, and not reducing it, which I think is the tendency in the traditional biopic,” Haynes elaborated.

Also playing Dylan are actress Cate Blanchett (who did not make it to to the Lido), Heath Ledger (who did appear), young black actor Marcus Carl Franklin, Christian Bale and Ben Whishaw.

In the first real test for this picture, which no doubt will be a marketing challenge, “I’m Not There” will bow theatrically Friday in Italy by BIM Distribuzione, before its rollout in the U.S. November 21 by the Weinstein Co.