Last night, about an hour into I'm Not There, I leaned over and whispered to Norman, "How long is this movie?"
"A little over two hours," he whispered back.
Shit. I slumped back in my seat and sighed loudly. I think Norman added something about how the movie was bound to get better soon, but my head was so full of angry, buzzing thoughts that I didn't really hear him. Fifteen minutes later, I'd had enough.
"Norman," I said, quietly but very firmly,"I hate this. I absolutely hate this and I'm leaving." I believe that caught his attention: I don't think Norman has ever walked out on a movie in his life. But as soon as I said the words, I felt so much better. After all, I didn't need to stay and torture myself with misery; I didn't owe anyone a ride home, and I believe my imminent departure revealed the direction any post-movie discussion would take. I grabbed my purse and coat, and by the time I hit the lobby I was feeling good enough to wave a cheery good-bye to the kid at the ticket counter. Yeah, my walking out cost me $10.50, and it means I won't honestly be able to say I watched every movie on this year's List, but so what? It also means that I rescued an hour of my life that would otherwise have been spent watching the worst movie I've seen in years.
Is there much to say about I'm Not There that critics haven't already said, and no doubt much more eloquently? In case you're out of the loop, it's that movie about Bob Dylan (sort of) starring, among others, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, and a little black kid as Bob Dylan (sort of). I think Heath Ledger was playing an actor who was portraying Christian Bale's version of a Dylan-esque character in a movie-within-the-movie, but I'm not sure. (Did you even understand what I was trying to say in that last sentence? I didn't think so.) By the time Richard Gere showed up, playing, no doubt, yet another manifestation of Bob Dylan, I was so pissed off and confused that I threw in the towel. It might have helped me if any of the characters in the movie had actually been named Bob Dylan.
Right now I am trying to decide whether handing ten-and-a-half bucks over to the box office constituted paying for the privilege of watching director/screenwriter Todd Hayes masturbate in public or letting him take a dump on me. I have the feeling it was both.