Like a metaphysical remake of Scorsese's No Direction Home, the escalatingly great Todd Haynes's "Dylan Goes Palindromes" is quite a fascinatingly diverse portrayal of a fascinatingly diverse man.
The device of using six [or seven] different characters to represent the man, myth, legend, etc. that is Bob Dylan starts off seeming like a gimmick but comes off as almost assuredly the only possible way to assess such a stupefyingly complex man. Like a reverse-Sybil, some characters leave more of an impression than others, but all involved aquit themselves with varying levels of solid.
Cate Blanchett has now taken on the unenviable task of portaying two of our culture's most inimiatable icons, and her version of Bob Dylan is FAR more successful than her Katharine Hepburn, if only because instead of imitating speech patterns, she INHABITS the character, channeling rhythm instead of patterns, adopting mannerisms, reactions and the way Dylan carried himself in his most fertile period. She also looks startlingly similar to him with presumably little alteration, and because she DOESN'T really attempt to imitate his distinctive voice, she's the only one who really becomes Dylan.
The others are descending levels of quality, the little black kid [Marcus something] that pretends to be Woody Guthrie is Dylan's early years, aping Guthrie and Seeger, not moving forward within himself. That section more than any other is full of verbatim quotes from Dylan's life, and is amusing if you recognize them. Richard Gere's 'outlaw' of Billy the Kid is refreshingly high-quality, showing none of the typically flashy annoying quirks Gere usually exhibits, especially since he looks like Ye Olde Dude Lebowski .
Heath Ledger [as Dylan's 'superstar douchebag'] and Christian Bale [as 'the early years'] are less successful. Ledger rarely exudes any of the charisma that you would presume would make one that famous or attractive, and it's the most predictable section [full of the paparazzi and marital troubles normal 'star' movies contain]. Christian Bale's character is, like every Christian Bale character, flat and unremarkable.
I was going to say that it could use a half-hour trim or so, but I don't think that's the truth. I think more likely that there are just so many perfect places to end it that I just wanted it to finish on several lovely notes, and then it doesn't end on one of those perfect notes, but still ends quite well.
I realize this has been a rambling review, but this is a rambling film about a rambling man.
[My 40th film of 2007 is my #4 film of 2007] [Grade: B+]