I'm by no means a Dylan expert or fanatic. I think, like a lot of fans of his music, I enjoy the imagery he uses and the almost artistic obscurity of some of these images. There is also a sense of change, maybe dynamism, in both his music and his conveyed persona. It is this change that "I'm Not There" attempts to address, looking at the concepts of identity, change, and the search for personal freedom.
I had read only one article about this film prior to watching it and was particularly interested in the idea of a number of different representations of Dylan being presented through the movie, especially the idea of Cate Blanchett playing Dylan at around the time when he went electric. Blanchett, in my opinion, is an excellent actress and didn't disappoint. She/he was the closest the film has to a main character and the closest to a historical representation of Dylan, although also using this character to point most obviously to the death of one of Dylan's personas. At times however, the power and pseudo-realism of Blanchett's Dylan made one or two of the scenes focused on more conceptual Dylans seem a step too far, although I am sure they are intended to provide a specific contrast.
I think the thing that I enjoyed most about the film was perhaps the same thing that made me enjoy Jack Kerouac's "On The Road", but it is something I struggle to put my finger on. I think it is the depiction of trying to live out a kind of freedom that exists at the meeting point between geographical and personal movement and self-expression. There is some lovely imagery and intriguing dialogue, and I am always happy to be shown a side of America that exists outside of the more cosmopolitan cities.
To non-Dylan fans this will just be another example of the many forms of media that seem to contain his name. To others, it will be seen as an interesting take on the life of an exceptional writer and musician.
For me, it is a thought-provoking film that seems to encourage you to embrace your creative side. It is also a refreshing change from a lot of the films that are released, either filled with negativity, gratuitous violence or regurgitated story-lines. Films like this can be a little more challenging yet not necessarily a great effort to watch, and thus more rewarding. I think it is fair to say that some interest in Dylan is a prerequisite in watching this film but, on the other hand, the predominantly fictional take on his life might irritate die-hard fans. Having said that, the music that accompanies the film will always appeal.