Film review: ‘Greetings From Tim Buckley’

Penn Badgley embodies the young, pre-fame Jeff Buckley in "Greetings From Tim Buckley" Credit: K.C. Bailey
Penn Badgley embodies the young, pre-fame Jeff Buckley in “Greetings From Tim Buckley”
Credit: K.C. Bailey

‘Greetings From Tim Buckley’
Director: Daniel Algrant
Stars: Penn Badgley, Imogen Poots
Rating: NR
2 (out of 5) Globes

One day may bring a dreadful, career-spanning Great Man biopic about Jeff Buckley, the singer-songwriter who drowned days before recording his sophomore album. The existence of a smaller, more intimate entry like “Greetings From Tim Buckley” — named for his dad, another musical martyr, who figures here like a ghost — at least forestalls the inevitable. Daniel Algrant’s indie, starring Penn Badgley as the young, pre-fame crooner, trades in many of the same biopic cliches, including viewing Buckley less as a person than as a magical embodiment of free spirit and deep hurt. But for every irritation there’s a lovely moment that breaks out of the mould.

Like “Topsy-Turvy” and the recent “Renoir,” “Buckley” zeroes in on a tiny slither of an artist’s life, namely the handful of days before Buckley the younger’s first public performance in 1991. A concert in honor of his late father, whom he met twice ever, is being organized and Jeff’s presence is requested, though no one yet knows he’s a future doomed genius. Arriving in New York City, he instantly woos the easily-wooable Allie (Imogen Poots, alert and exciting as usual), a concert aide. She winds up skipping work to gallivant with this brand new sensitive type who does epic, impromptu Robert Plant impersonations while leafing through records.

“We have to go back,” Allie avers during one of his instinctive travels. “No, we have to go forth,” he declaims. The film’s Buckley can turn from carefree to brooding on a dime, and what seems like a whimsical jaunt on Amtrak winds up holding deeper meaning for him. This only makes Allie melt more, because of course it does.

Grating and rock biopic cliched as some of this can be, there’s a lot to admire here. Algrant’s script periodically jumps back to Tim Buckley (Ben Rosenfield), as he goes off on his own devil-may-care trek, spouting cheesy lines as he seduces his own set of ladies. Jeff is different and the same: he has some of the same moves, as if through genetics, but unlike his father, he’s burdened by the absence of a famous dad everyone seems to know as well as he does. Algrant doesn’t lean too hard on the juxtapositions, and he only dwells partially on scenes where Buckley acts like a sensitive singer-songwriter god-in-the-making. Scenes set to music flow at the unhurried, languid pace of the songs themselves, giving over to the mood and the erudition embedded in the lyrics, staying contemplative before getting back to characters’ ruining everything by talking.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.