I found I'm Not There to be a good film. One that overreaches a bit and so full of arcane data on Dylan as well as allusions, illusions and narrative arches that it is not fully engaging. Still an interesting film; and the music is great.
Below I have gathered a few choice lines from reviews by critics around the country.
- I’m Not There is a palimpsest – earlier language transformed by newer variation, a text of scribble-scrabble atop fever dream and solipsistic acting out, a kind of pop-cult graphomania, hyper-texting, evocative and pungent moments suggested by the lyrics and words of Dylan... It’s a weave of Dylan–not Dylan, a conflagration of surrealist provocations, a blasted secular religiosity. The final image is furiously apt, suggesting a Dylan who needs not breathe to motor onward.
Ray Pride Orlando Weekly
- Anyone can make a bad movie, but it takes a good filmmaker to make one as bad as "I'm Not There." Todd Haynes, who directed and co-wrote it, takes a misbegotten idea and pursues it with the kind of zeal and imagination not available to mediocre filmmakers.
Mick LaSalle San Francisco Chronicle
- Among its many achievements, Mr. Haynes’s film hurls a Molotov cocktail through the facade of the Hollywood biopic factory, exploding the literal-minded, anti-intellectual assumptions that guide even the most admiring cinematic explorations of artists’ lives. Rather than turn out yet another dutiful, linear chronicle of childhood trauma and grown-up substance abuse, Mr. Haynes has produced a dizzying palimpsest of images and styles, in which his subject appears in the form of six different people.
A.O. Scott New York Times
- For all its narrative doubling and loop-de-loops, however, the film is ultimately a rather mundane, literal piece of inventive hodgepodgery.
Nick Schager Slant Magazine
- Rabid Dylanistas may appreciate it somewhat more than the great unwashed, but even those who recognize every stray reference will likely experience the film as little more than a vaguely playful blur.... I’m Not There is so relentlessly academic that it comes more into focus the further away from it you get. At which point it inevitably looks quite small.
Mike D'Angelo Las Vegas Weekly
- All right, I confess. I was bored and confused most of the time, but I plead ignorance as a critic to the many nuances of Mr. Haynes’s pop cavalcade of Mr. Dylan’s golden oldies, enmeshed as these are in Mr. Haynes’s hopelessly and interminably cluttered mise-en-scène.
Andrew Sarris New York Observer