Just home from the TIFF screening of Greetings from Tim Buckley. Went in knowing very little, other than that Penn Badgley was playing Jeff Buckley, and came out so pleased I saw it. Though I have a passing knowledge of his music and story, I’m by no means familiar, so the question of whether Penn’s version of Jeff was ‘accurate’ was totally irrelevant to me — and that ignorance let me just focus on the story of this strange wonderful kid standing in the shadow of his legendary singer/songwriter father.
The music — so much of it, so so good; it often felt like a concert film full of real musicians. (Fingers crossed for a soundtrack.)
The female characters — instead of the usual pretty-girl-love-interest-counterpart to Jeff, we got Allie (Imogen Poots who, at the screening, looked so remarkably different than she did onscreen I truly did not know what role she’d played). Allie is strange, and captivating, and complicated; you get why Jeff’s taken by her. It’s so rare to see a character like that — unpredictable.
And Penn Badgley’s performance. There was no Dan Humphrey there, no Penn Badgley there — it was just his Jeff Buckley. Like with the rest of the characters, his portrayal avoided sentimentality; instead it felt messy and real and honest. While there are big memorable scenes — the record store scene got applause during the screening — what hit me most was a conversation about his father, Jeff squirming opposite Allie on a train ride. There was a complexity there, an unsettled mashup of conflicting emotions, that reminded me of conversations I’ve had with friends who’ve lost charismatic parents.
I left the theatre feeling (somewhat oddly) proud of Penn Badgley. It’s a courageous performance — in a film that explores the courage it takes to perform. A solid movie.