Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Length: 99 minutes
Release Date: May. 3, 2013
Directed by: Daniel Algrant
Stars: 2.5 out of 5
Jeff Buckley, upset at the fact that his famous musician father abandoned him, is asked to play his father’s songs at a tribute concert. Jeff, who dabbles a bit in music but is not famous for his musical skills yet, reluctantly agrees and proceeds to stun everybody by not just recreating his father’s magic but by highlighting his own musical talent and skill as well. The feeling that Jeff’s anger is, to a certain extent, released in the course of his tribute to his estranged father is palpable at the end of “Greetings from Tim Buckley” even if you do not know anything about the tragic history of the Buckley family.
Unlike other biopics and semi-biopics about musicians and other famous personalities, “Greetings from Tim Buckley” does not underplay the undesirable and unpalatable aspects of the personalities involved in the movie. The movie does not try to explain why Tim Buckley (Ben Rosenfeld) abandons his wife and son.
Director Daniel Algrant, in a bold move, does not use the license that a semi-fictionalized biopic offers to attribute the tragedy to the eccentricities of a genius whose actions cannot be comprehended by ordinary individuals. Instead, Tim Buckley’s abandonment of his family forms a small part of the overall story as the movie focuses on its impact on Tim’s son Jeff (Penn Badgley).
Jeff’s latent anger at his father, undiminished over the years, comes out in the open when his input is sought for a tribute concert being organized for his father. He openly questions his capacity to contribute to the concert and bluntly states that he hardly knew his father.
Moody, brooding, and lonely, Jeff agrees to participate primarily because he considers it a chance to display his own musical talent. Upon meeting performers who had worked with his father, Jeff struggles to control his sense of hurt and proceeds to vent his feelings without any regard for the consequences.
Penn Badgley stands out for a controlled performance as a hurt and sad youngster with ambivalent feelings about his father. He manages to convey the inability of talented musicians to conform to the rules of ordinary people leading normal and routine lives. Penn is convincingly unlikeable when he is ranting against famous rock stars of the past or being rude and offensive towards Allie (Imogen Poots), thereby destroying a friendship that was on the verge of becoming a romantic relationship.
Allie’s character is a fictional inclusion and adds cheer and lighthearted frivolity to the movie’s serious mood. She is attracted to Tim, and their friendship blooms into romance, which, after a few mishaps, has a happy conclusion. Her presence compels Tim to look beyond his complaints about life, which contributes to the sizzling musical finale at the climax. One cannot help but see black humor in the fact that the girl who finally brings a bit of cheer into Jeff’s life is one who had a serious crush on his eccentric and dazzling father as well.
The director smartly avoids monotony by shifting attention from the son to the father. We see glimpses of Tim’s musical talent along with his tendency to indulge in affairs and casual relationships despite being married. It is left to the audience to determine whether Tim’s musical legacy is overshadowed by his poor treatment of his wife and son.
The movie could have easily ended up as a boring emotional drama about an angry son and an errant father. However, these aspects of the plot merely serve as the backdrop for the movie’s biggest highlight-the concert. The director put in a lot of effort to recreate the concert in the most realistic manner possible. The fact that the movie showcases Tim’s tribute as well as concerts performed by Jeff Buckley makes this movie an enjoyable experience for all who love good music. This aspect of the movie is clearly the most enjoyable part.
Despite such an unhappy premise, “Greetings from Tim Buckley” (trailer here!) is not a gloomy or tragic movie. Rather, it is a story about a unique family where a son inherits his father’s talents and gains recognition and respect through the contributions of his father. The movie has a positive message as Jeff settles his grudges against his father by exploring himself and discovering the capacity to forgive. The movie acts as a tribute to the capacity of music to heal old wounds and trauma.